Arctic Gold 24-2 reinforces the 354th Fighter Wing’s ability to deploy and project airpower

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Carson Jeney
  • 354th Fighter Wing

The 354th Fighter Wing conducted exercise Arctic Gold 24-2 to practice the wing’s ability to rapidly generate support to deploy fifth generation airpower, March 18-21, 2024.

The objectives of AG 24-2 were to generate and employ 24 F-35A Lightning II aircraft, cargo, and all tasked personnel. The exercise refined the capabilities of Pacific Air Forces Airmen and ensured they were ready to defend and protect the Arctic and Indo-Pacific regions from potential adversaries, upholding PACAF’s ability to fight and win.

“This exercise focused on getting all personnel, cargo, and aircraft generated and ready for a deployment within the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Marc Finnegan, 354th Fighter Wing inspector general. “That included ensuring personnel were properly cleared for a deployment, cargo was packed and inspected, and our aircraft were ready to go within the stated timeline.”

Exercises like AG 24-2 allow the wing’s various units to demonstrate their capabilities in the event of a mass deployment and build on set process standards.

“This iteration of Arctic Gold focused on the generation phase of a deployment tasking and focused on setting the benchmark on how all of the 354th FW entities process orders and move out in an efficient manner,” Finnegan said.

Squadrons had to work together and exemplify cohesion to accomplish the training objectives of the exercise.

“Our mission is to provide safe and reliable combat ready aircraft,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Kenneth Rice, 355th Fighter Generation Squadron director of operations. “Within the outlined objectives are thousands of implied tasks executed by hundreds of people required to pick up and move a squadron of F-35s.”

Participating Airmen were able to overcome communication challenges and gain new insight on building inter-squadron cohesion in addition to completing all required objectives.

“Communication is a constant battle in daily operations and even more so in an exercise,” Rice said. “Overcommunication is essential to ensure the whole team has a crystal-clear understanding of the plan and how to execute. That said, we’ve grown leaps and bounds on the communication front in the short time since our last exercise.”

This exercise also allowed Mission Ready Airmen to test and troubleshoot new responsibilities. These are Airmen that are training in jobs outside of their original Air Force Specialty Code to create a total force capable of supporting Agile Combat Employment for mission resiliency.

“For the exercise, I was a cargo in-checker,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Dayanira Valdez Alvarado, 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance apprentice. “I love that my role in this exercise is completely different from my AFSC. It really helped me understand what they do and how things get done around them.”

The execution of AG 24-2 supports the 354th FW mission by ensuring the units under the wing can support a deployment in a timely manner, displaying readiness and mission effectiveness.