31st Fighter Wing Conducts Agile Combat Employment Training in Slovenia

F-16s and personnel from the 31st Fighter Wing, based out of Aviano Air Base, Italy, recently participated in an agile combat employment exercise in Slovenia from Sept. 7 to 10, as top generals from both countries met to discuss the U.S.-Slovenian partnership.

Exercise Agile Wyvern also included U.S. Army paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade and Airmen from the 31st Security Forces Squadron. The forces practiced air-to-air engagements, calling airstrikes, and deliberate strike missions with their Slovenian counterparts, according to a press release.

USAFE has been conducting agile combat employment operations for more than a year now, with the goal of pushing Airmen outside of their comfort zone and asking them to work in remote or austere environments while utilizing different skill sets.

For Agile Wyvern in particular, the goal was to “test the compilation of equipment that we have to be quick and agile,” said Maj. Joseph Basala, 31st Fighter Wing plans and programs chief of agile combat employment. On top of that, Airmen were asked to take that equipment to a non-U.S. airfield, in this case Cerklje ob Krki Air Base, Slovenia, and ensure operations continued seamlessly.

“Agile Wyvern is important because sometimes when you just exercise on your base, you don’t see your shortfalls, because you have everything you need there, but then you come out here and have the opportunity for more experience and training,” Tech. Sgt. Philip Thach, 31st Communications Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of agile communications, said in a press release.

As part of the exercise, F-16s rapidly dispersed from Aviano to Slovenia, along with “tactical command and control assets and support personnel and equipment,” and operated from Cerklje ob Krki alongside the Slovenian Armed Forces.

The exercise marked the capstone event for the 31st Fighter Wing to achieve ACE initial operational capability.

It also included a meeting between Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, and Brig. Gen. Jason E. Bailey, commander of the 31st Fighter Wing, with BG Roman Urbanč, deputy chief of the general staff of the Slovenian Armed Forces, and Col. Janez Gaube, 15th Wing commander at Cerklje ob Krki Air Base. The commanders discussed the importance of cooperation to make the ACE concept work, according to a press release from the 31st FW.

“Our Airmen benefit greatly from working alongside Slovenian forces,” Harrigian said in a statement. “These bilateral training exercises enhance our interoperability and help us maintain joint readiness, making us all better.”