61st AS Capstone: Multi-Capable, always ready

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Aaron Irvin
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASK, Ark. -- As part of a multi-week off-station training event, the 61st Airlift Squadron alongside Airmen from the 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 19th Operations Support Squadron and 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron put the Multi-Capable Airmen concept to the test in Boise, Idaho and Key West, Florida, March 8-28.

The MCA concept enhances the Air Force’s ability to rapidly deploy forces to austere and contested locations by ensuring more Airmen are trained and qualified to perform duties outside of their specific job description or Air Force Specialty Code.

Echoing Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr.’s “Accelerate Change or Lose” strategy, Capt. Dmytro Pichkur, 61st AS pilot and OST mission commander, said adaptive and agile Airmen, capable of accomplishing tasks outside their AFSC, are vital to delivering agile combat airlift.

“Combined with Agile Combat Employment, MCA allows us to greatly reduce our footprint, by using fewer personnel to accomplish the objectives, which in turn allows us to be more agile,” said Pichkur.

As the Air Force continues to refine and expand upon ACE, the 19th Airlift Wing has aggressively pursued opportunities for Airmen to demonstrate the MCA proof of concept by discovering innovative ways to improve and adapt to the shifting focus on near-peer adversaries.

“Currently, when we move between austere locations, we have to bring our own support equipment and personnel with us,” Pichkur said. “By training Airmen to be multi-capable, we are able to move between locations more quickly, and do not have to rely on pre-established forward operating bases.

Furthermore, by having Airmen that are trained to a limited proficiency in other duties, we are able to have better insight of what other AFSCs do, allowing for greater understanding and better communication.”

While in Boise, the 61st AS trained with the 821st Contingency Response Squadron out of Travis AFB, California, where pilots, loadmasters and maintainers learned basic setup and teardown operations of a bare bones FOB.

Over the span of two weeks, nearly 50 Airmen were trained on building and setting up tents as well as receiving training from the 19th LRS on forklift training operations, allowing loadmasters and pilots to load the aircraft themselves.

“The forklift certification was an eye-opening experience for me,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Miller, 61st AS commander. “Our LRS professionals make it look so easy. However, even after watching thousands of iterations of forklift operations, this experience provided a perspective I never had before.”

Miller said that while it’s not as easy as it looks, with just a little practice, Airmen gained a capability that has the potential to help get the job done, even in the toughest of circumstances.

“With two weeks’ worth of training, we became more self-sufficient,” Miller said. “If faced with a dynamic mission in an austere environment, without access to the luxury of typical port services, this MCA training gave us one more arrow in the quiver that helps us ensure mission success.”