By Airman 1st Class Kyle Cope | 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) — Members of the 52nd Fighter Wing participated in exercise Rapid Weasel April 24 and 25 at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.
“Rapid Weasel was a demonstration of the 52nd FW’s ability to rapidly project combat power by opening an airfield, refueling and re-arming fighter aircraft, then quickly departing to other locations,” said Lt. Col. Leonardo Tongko, 435th Contingency Response Squadron commander.
Rapid Weasel was a readiness exercise for Spangdahlem AB to continue to improve its procedures and increase readiness.
“It is important that we have these type of exercises to allow us to combine and test our capabilities as one team as rapidly as we can to start generating the mission,” said Capt. Robert Bligh, 435th CRS maintenance flight commander. “This in turn allows us to learn and develop new techniques and procedures that we can share with other units and our NATO allies. These exercises also enable us to think outside of our norms of home station operations to what future potential operating locations might be.”
The exercise was a cooperative effort between the 52nd FW and units from five other wings.
“More than 100 Airmen across 24 different career fields participated in this event,” Tongko said.
The integrated effort provided the team with more opportunities to simulate different situations and test the overall response to each of those scenarios.
“It was great working with the 52nd FW as the host base for this exercise,” Tongko said. “Working in conjunction with our 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing counterparts on the Air Mobility Command ramp allowed us to replicate different scenarios, as well as different types of airfield environments from main operating base and austere locations while doing so in a controlled environment. This type of host-base integration not only gives us the support needed to execute safely, but it truly allows us to push the envelope of integrating combat capabilities.”
This year’s Rapid Weasel was the first of several possible exercises with the Rapid Weasel teams.
“The past five months have been challenging but rewarding,” Bligh said. “Working with all the agencies and key players allowed all of us to learn from one another to provide multiple solutions that made this exercise a success. I can’t thank all those involved from the initial thought of this exercise to its execution enough. This was just the first of what I hope to be of many future iterations with these organizations.”
Rapid Weasel leadership felt the exercise was a success, will propel integration of innovation and would help drive the Air Force in the direction Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein wants to see the Air Force go.
“As General Goldfein has said, ‘it is not enough to innovate, but we must also rapidly integrate these innovations,’ and I think that General Goldfein would be proud to see that we did just that for Rapid Weasel,” Tongko said.