Spangdahlem ACE Airmen integrate with German Air Force during Castle Forge Published Nov. 9, 2021 By Senior Airman Ali Stewart 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs BUECHEL AIR BASE, Germany -- U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base launched and operated two F-16 Fighting Falcons from a partner-nation airfield at Büchel Air Base, Germany, Nov. 2-5, during Castle Forge, a U.S. Air Forces Europe- Air Forces Africa led event. This is the first time the German Air Force integrated with Spangdahlem’s Agile Combat Employment operations as part of a USAFE ACE Initial Operating Capability event where each wing participated. “When we use ACE, the Agile Combat Employment... we go out with lighter units to different places to be able to move around more frequently… we did a lot of that throughout the entire theater,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Leslie Hauck, 52nd Fighter Wing commander. “We sent a couple jets over to our friends in Buechel and flew with them… they turned our aircraft and we even had some of our maintainers [work] on one of their aircraft. It looks really cool to see us all working together and showing the strength of NATO.” Castle Forge demonstrates the joint force’s combined ability to respond in times of crisis with a flexible, reassuring presence, aligning with the 52nd FW’s mission of delivering airpower in order to promote regional stability. Airmen from the 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron were given the opportunity to work side by side with their German partners in a contingency setting, which included exchanges where the Germans worked to launch an F-16 Fighting Falcon. “We’ve been planning and coordinating with our Büchel partners from typical base support, to maintenance professional exchanges where our crew chiefs get to work on launching a German Tornado,” said Maj. Dominic Collins, 52nd FW Plans and Programs director. “The German maintenance specialists are out here, today, learning how to launch our F-16’s.” ACE is a concept of operations that envisions the use of agile operations to generate resilient airpower in a contested environment, thus enhancing our ability to deter, defend and win across the spectrum of conflict. During the exercise, maintenance Airmen are trained on tasks outside the spectrum of their normal duties, which fit the bill of a multi-capable Airman, the pinnacle of ACE. “It can be a little uncomfortable doing something outside of your normal job,” said Staff Sgt. Briana Mehl, weapons load crew chief. “But we are trained and prepared to perform these types of jobs in this kind of environment at a moment’s notice.” Castle Forge is a USAFE-AFAFRICA-led joint multinational training event supported by two prongs: F-15E training bases in Larissa, Greece, and a MAJCOM-wide ACE IOC event with all of USAFE’s eight wings. The forward deployed forces are engaged, postured and ready with credible force to assure, deter and defend in an increasingly complex security environment.