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419th FW supports unprecedented Air National Guard exercise

  • Published
  • By Captain Christian Eberhardt
  • 419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Members from the 419th Maintenance Squadron participated in a one-day joint exercise at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah on Sept. 8, 2022.

Led by the Utah Air National Guard, more than 200 service members participated in the event which included personnel from the 388th Fighter Wing, 419th Fighter Wing, The Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center (AATC), the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC), and Dugway Proving Ground.

The primary focus of the exercise was the implementation of Agile Combat Employment, or ACE, which shifts the creation of airpower from large, centralized bases to networks of smaller bases. By reducing the Air Force’s dependence on a main operating base, ACE decreases the risk of an adversarial air or missile attack.

“It’s extremely important for us to develop our ACE capabilities,” said Col. Matthew Fritz, 419th FW commander. “This joint exercise provides Airmen an opportunity to simultaneously broaden and sharpen their war fighting skills.”

The process of gaining the essential skills to support ACE is all part of a fairly new concept known as Multi-Capable Airmen training. Essentially, Airmen are trained to perform tasks that normally fall outside of their primary profession.

“They chose me to not only come out here and work on the F-35 but to learn other airframes and see how they work compared to other airframes,” said Senior Airman Hannah Pettersson, 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “It’s been really cool to come out here and see how these aircraft work and see what people in other branches do.”

These additional skills not only afford Airmen greater autonomy when operating in an unfamiliar or hazard environment, but also reduce the number of Airmen who are put in harm’s way when global conflicts arise.

“I’m here today because I have been able to prove myself on the flight line,” said Patterson. “I’ve been able to work hard throughout the years, I have built my training and proved I am one of the most capable at doing my job.”

Hill AFB is home to 78 F-35s. The Reserve 419th FW and active duty 388th FW fly and maintain the fleet in a Total Force partnership that capitalizes on the strengths of both components. Together, they are the Air Force’s first combat-capable units to fly and deploy the F-35.