3rd Wing sets intel standards at William Tell 2023

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman J. Michael Peña
  • Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Public Affairs

[Editor’s note: For operational security, names have been omitted.]

The 3rd Wing from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, set the standards for command-and-control (C2) support and intelligence integration during the 2023 iteration of William Tell, the Air Force’s historic air-to-air weapons meet, held at Savannah Air National Guard Base.

After a 19-year hiatus, the competition’s revival brought new components aiming to measure intel-related skill sets, C2 capabilities and overall cohesiveness of competing fighter integration teams from across the Air Force.

While each team provided their own intelligence officers, the 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron from JBER served as one of three main C2 entities, not only participating under the 3rd Wing team, but supporting three additional fighter wings during the competition.

Their ability to transform collected intel into guidance that could increase the survivability, lethality, and success of their supported teams ultimately led the 3rd Wing to secure the Maj. Richard I. Bong Fighter Integration Trophy alongside their teammates from the 366th, 388th, and 419th Fighter Wings.

“[In football] you have your head coaches, your quarterbacks, offensive lines, and we are the offensive coordinators,” said an E-3G instructor air-battle manager assigned to the 962nd AACS. “We have this God’s-eye view and then we describe what we’re seeing and relay that information to the mission commanders and their teams, the mission commander being the coach.”

The 962nd AACS officer said if their team fell through on their contracts, were late in the delivery of information or failed to deliver said information entirely, they would be docked points, a failure that when translated into a real-life incident could cost someone’s life.

A senior intelligence officer from the 1st Fighter Wing, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., led the evaluation team during William Tell 2023, thoroughly examining and scoring the decisions made by the 962nd AACS officer and other competitors.

To ensure fighter integration teams were engaging in the most realistic testing possible, the 1st FW officer and their team of enlisted and officer weapons school graduates spent months designing the scenarios and products not only used by the analysts, but the theoretical strategies used against them as well.

“We told each wing to send their best so we could pit them against each other in a bracket to see who our top analyst is,” said the 1st FW officer. “We took about 50,000 data points across the airspace here from rural data, transposed it, and said, ‘Go forth and conquer.’”

A 525th Fighter Squadron intelligence officer from JBER competed under the 3rd Wing team in the mission-planning cell, researching and organizing data for his teammates. The 525th FS officer contrasted William Tell 23 with other exercises, stating the competition was a more realistic test of his abilities.

“I think, in other exercises, there are specific training objectives that you need to meet, but this one is more so to literally do our jobs– to take raw data and then make intelligence out of it,” said the 525th FS officer. “We need to translate that into a story that operators can actually work with, so the goal here is to extensively exercise your skills to the best of your ability– to use the raw application of your skillset.”