Niagara and Barksdale successfully conduct EWO ACE exercise at former SAC base

  • Published
  • By Kevin Nichols
  • 914th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

The 914th Air Refueling Wing at Niagara Falls ARS, and 307th Bomb Wing from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, conducted their first integrated Emergency War Order (EWO) Agile Combat Employment (ACE) exercise, June 23-30, 2023 at Griffiss International Airport, Rome, New York, former site of the central New York Strategic Air Command base that closed in 1995.

ACE is a key operating concept for how the units will fight in a modern, contested environment, sharpening their ability to operate from unfamiliar locations with minimal resources and support.

According to Col. Joseph Contino, 914 ARW commander, this exercise of two Air Force Reserve units utilizing a former SAC base, successfully brought together the bomber and refueler communities to accomplish nuclear deployment training.

“This proof of concept highlights the ability that an agile combat nuclear element as small as one B-52 and one KC-135 with a full maintenance complement with C-2 and Ops can be effectively and very quickly forward deployed to any one of the prior 74 Strategic Air Command bases, putting our peer adversaries on notice," said Contino.

This operational concept shifts the generation of airpower from large, centralized bases to networks of smaller, dispersed locations.

“Griffiss is only 30-minute flight from here (to) Rome, New York, who has a combat ready munitions storage facility,” said Contino.  “We can do that and conduct all nuclear operations at the drop of a hat, essentially forcing any peer adversary to plan and consider such a perplexing and unpredictable force structure.”

The exercise highlighted Niagara and Barksdale’s ability to integrate in a dynamic deployed training environment.

“The B-52 and the KC-135 were designed to work as a pair for missions,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Mowers, 328th Air Refueling Squadron commander.  “It’s very important for us to be able to operate very closely together on the ground.”

Future plans include another ACE exercise in Fall 2024 paired with a 914th readiness exercise.  This will allow deployment training and continued focus on flexibility while keeping our partnership with Griffiss IAP, which is owned and operated by Oneida County.

“Oneida County is honored to have partnered with the 914th Air Refueling Wing at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and the 307th Bomb Wing from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana to conduct a training exercise at our Griffiss International Airport that was crucial to the security of our great nation,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr.  “While the former Air Force Base site is now home to a flourishing business and technology park that serves as a global hub for drone research and development, it filled our community with pride to see a B-52 bomber and other military aircraft return to our skies.  We look forward to assisting with more such missions in the future.”