JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – Airmen from Alaska’s Air National Guard 176th Medical Group flew to Hawaii to put Agile Combat Employment to the test by building a medical tent with a few people.
“We’re establishing a baseline understanding of how long it takes to land in a remote location and establish medical capabilities using new equipment developed for medical ACE spoke sites,” said Capt. Jennifer Ward, 176th Medical Group medical administrative officer. “With a team of six personnel, we set up the two medical tents and became familiar with the shelter for remote contingency medical applications.”
Team members — all from the medical career field —learned about the specialized tents designed for a small footprint and easy setup, even in low-light conditions. They trained how to set up and configure the tents in different ways at a spoke site.
They will apply what they learned to different scenarios in the Northern Edge 2023 exercise and beyond.
“In May 2023, we will use this package to test a very basic scenario to see what we should or shouldn’t change,” said Master Sgt. Angela Bear, 176th Medical Group health service technician. “We need to make sure the [Air Force Specialty Codes] that were selected truly work when we put a scenario to the test and make adjustments from there.”
The different AFSCs range from a physician’s assistant and medic to a public health tech and admin support to provide a full spectrum of care.
“These remote medical capabilities are important for wartime efforts as well as global health engagement,” said Ward.
“As the U.S. pivots from conflict in the Middle East to concerns about near-peer threats, the whole approach changes,” she said. “The results of such a conflict means operating in an entirely different environment with different logistical challenges, different strategies, and a different pace. It’s an incredible mind-shift when most everyone currently serving has spent their whole career focused on the Middle East. We need to completely change our priorities and how we do business.”
As part of their time in Hawaii, team members inventoried medical supplies and built pallets that will be used in future exercises to ensure they have everything they need to set up at an ACE spoke location.
When applied correctly, ACE complicates the enemy’s targeting process and creates political and operational dilemmas for the enemy and flexibility for friendly forces.
“I think it’s crucial we listen to our leaders and really train how we are going to fight because our lives will depend on it,” Bear said.