Munitions unit conducts exercise NIMBLE FLURRY

  • Published
  • By Maria Galvez
  • 673rd ABW/PA
In an effort to ensure preparedness and enhance combat capabilities, the 3rd Munitions squadron hosted an Agile Combat Employment exercise on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and the surrounding area Sept. 18 through 21.

Exercise NIMBLE FLURRY, the largest in the unit’s history, focused on developing the necessary skills and expertise to thrive in an ACE environment. Major objectives included learning tactics, techniques and procedures Airmen will use in the Pacific Theater, understanding the equipment and resources required for success, testing new concepts for munitions airlift logistics, and discovering the smallest footprint necessary to produce lethal capabilities in a contested environment.

"We want to make sure that we know how to play when it comes to agile combat employment conflicts,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Alex Muhlenbeck, 3rd MUNS Director of Operations. “This exercise allows us to practice and develop best practices that can be shared across the Pacific Air Forces, ultimately enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of operations across the Air Force."

One of the key challenges faced during Pacific ACE exercises was munitions logistics.

Limited transportation options and frequent movement between locations made it vital to find the most efficient and effective methods to deliver munitions. By working through different scenarios, MUNS aimed to overcome these challenges and ensure seamless operations in a contested environment by partnering with the 517th Airlift Squadron to practice ACE aerial lift.

“It is challenging to practice and execute ACE in the Pacific theater because of the abundance of water between suitable and operational airstrips,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Lucas Sanders, 3rd MUNS Production Flight Chief. “That limits the logistical modes to airlift or – if you happen to have a suitable port – sealift. Airlift is a constrained resource often prioritized for getting the pieces and parts needed to keep the aircraft flying to the operating location.”

The exercise was implemented using a hub-and-spoke concept.

The hub, represented by the Hillside Munitions Storage Area, served as the main operating base, while Camp Mad Bull on JBER acted as a spoke, simulating a forward operating base for munitions. This approach allowed MUNS personnel to understand the equipment and resources needed for success at the spoke location and test new concepts in a realistic setting.

In addition to Multi-Capable Airman and ACE concepts, survival tactics were also practiced at Camp Mad Bull during the exercise as well as communication challenges. Airmen demonstrated their ability to operate and make decisions in a contested environment. This included conducting site surveys, setting up camp, and testing operations in a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear environment.

Working within the decentralized spoke location at Camp Mad Bull, a first for the unit, presented difficulties in command-and-control communication.

“The munitions field relies heavily on handheld radio and Internet connectivity to not only coordinate but also to keep track of a highly-scrutinized munitions inventory,” said Sanders.

“It will be up to the team on the ground to know what the intent of the Combatant Commander is and carry out orders on that intent,” added Muhlenbeck.

By practicing operations that may not have been done in a while, the unit enhances its capabilities and efficiency.

Sanders emphasized collaboration and the sharing of best practices with other units fostering a culture of trust, innovation, and continuous improvement.

“We don’t exist in a bubble; other units across the Air Force are developing solutions for their mission sets as well,” said Sanders. “We exchange ideas and information as we test new concepts. Each unit’s solutions will be different because of their location, mission sets, and available resources.”

The exercise serves as a platform to develop resilience, empower junior personnel, and ultimately strengthen the overall readiness and lethality of the military as a whole.

“It brings our team together,” said Muhlenbeck. "Being out there with the team, watching them solve problems and create innovative solutions that I didn’t think was possible is inspiring.”