AOC FTU augments Austere Challenge 2023

  • Published
  • By 505th Command and Control Wing Public Affairs
  • 505th Training Squadron

The 505th Training Squadron sent air operations center subject matter experts to Ramstein Air Base to support U.S. European Command’s execution of exercise Austere Challenge 2023 from May 5-12 to practice coordinating a response to a fictional major crisis.

The exercise brought together military and civilian personnel from EUCOM forces and its components to contribute virtually across Europe in the weeklong command post exercise. U.S. Army Europe-Africa, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe/Africa, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, and U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Africa participated alongside an additional 11 North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, partner nations.

Building on the augmentation the 505th Command and Control Wing provided to U.S. Air Forces in Europe following the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022, the 505th Training Squadron continues to provide training, advising, and assistance to support 603rd AOC execution.

“As an instructor in our systems administration course, my job is to ensure our students are prepared to manage and perform defensive cyber operations in support of combatant commander priorities,” said Master Sgt. Donald Keefer, 505th TRS systems flight chief, Hurlburt Field, Florida. “The lessons learned from this exercise, and the operational experience I received, will directly impact the 1,600 students we graduate annually here at the 505th Training Squadron and send to air components around the world.”

In addition to cyber defense expertise, the 505th Training Squadron also sent personnel with expertise in combat airspace and command and control battle management operations. As the AOC Formal Training Unit, the 505th Training Squadron routinely sends subject matter experts to support air components during exercises and real-world contingencies.

The intent of Austere Challenge 2023 was to prepare ready forces, validate strategic access, exercise deterrence principles, and integrate and synchronize with the NATO alliance.  

“The expertise we have in this squadron is unmatched. We routinely leverage opportunities to participate in combatant command exercises to better prepare the joint force, allies, and partners to execute large-scale combat operations,” said Lt. Col. Jason Gossett, 505th Training Squadron commander. “Additionally, participating in these events ensures our instructor cadre remain proficient in operating the AOC Weapon System.”

The 505th Training Squadron is responsible for preparing graduates to operate the AOC Weapon System, graduating more than 1,600 joint and coalition personnel annually. Additionally, the squadron teaches 13 initial qualification courses in the weapon system, including an Integrated Air and Missile Defense Course, a Joint AOC C2 Course, and an academic instructor course. Graduates from the 505th Training Squadron serve in all combatant commands.