Chabelley Airfield, Djibouti – Various U.S. units under Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and the 449th Air Expeditionary Group pooled their resources to conduct the first simulated joint branch Forward Arming and Refueling Point (FARP) exercise in the African continent on Feb. 22, 2023.
As the term suggests, a FARP is defined as a location outside of established military installations that an aircraft can rely on to quickly refuel and rearm. In a complex/dynamic environment such as eastern Africa, this exercise demonstrates a readiness to respond to any crisis or challenge as a reliable global partner. The FARP mission makes it possible to do this because aircraft supporting combat operations can refuel much closer to their area of operation, saving a significant amount of time.
"CJTF-HOA is tasked with responding to U.S. embassies during times of crisis, and is the preferred option for all of Africa as the only response force on continent. Unfortunately, the tyranny of distance is our greatest enemy," said Maj. Malcolm Strong, U.S. Air Force Chief of Air Operations for CJTF-HOA CJ-32. "This exercise is not only demonstrating the proactive use of Agile Combat Employment (ACE), but driving requirements to leverage ACE concepts for crisis response."
ACE concepts extend the range for aircraft operations from several hundred miles from its launch and recovery element to continent wide, and increase endurance to provide critical information to the geographical and functional commands. The utilization of ACE concepts also improves interoperability among the joint force, and helps allies and partner nations increase their own capabilities. Being able to respond at a moment's notice is critical.
This recent exercise, conducted between Camp Lemonnier and Chabelley Airfield, involved a U.S. Marine Corps KC-130J, security forces from the U.S. Army, and an MQ-9 airframe from the U.S. Air Force.
The ability of a Joint Force Commander to move their forces fluidly across the theater to seize, retain and utilize initiatives against an adversary is key to ensuring readiness and resilience, and protecting assets and personnel. Utilizing ACE concepts in less-than-optimal environments improves the interoperability among U.S. and ally forces, creating the greatest possible opportunity for a long-term advancement of combined interests.