GE 16 keeps AFGSC on the edge of deterrence

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Representatives from across the Department of Defense met here June 13 - 17 to brainstorm how Air Force Global Strike Command’s forces will perform in tomorrow’s contested environment by participating in Global Engagement 2016, Global Strike Workshop. This war gaming session served as a venue for experts to formulate a way ahead for Global Strike task forces and how they will meet future challenges.  

“We’ve brought together some great minds here who have been very creative in both bringing challenges and solutions to the table,” said Eighth Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Richard M. Clark. “This team has developed concepts of operations that will help us provide a healthy vector for our forces in the future, especially when it comes to operating in tomorrow’s anti-access/area-denial environment.” 

The scenario incorporated the full-range of AFGSC’s bomber force and its ability to perform in multiple environments. It also tested how well these assets would integrate with joint and coalition partners.

Due to the complexity of today’s current threat environment, GE 16 also incorporated maritime, space, cyber and electronic warfare elements. The war gaming session gives AFGSC and mission partners the chance to present solutions ahead of time in regard to each of these areas.

“Our aim was to come up with actionable solutions for our Global Strike forces when faced with evolving threats in all domains,” Maj. Thomas Garvin, exercise planner, said. “This kind of joint planning is key to our success in the future. By projecting our forces and adversary forces into a plausible near-future scenario, we are able to apply critical thought to anticipated challenges and offer realistic solutions which then feeds our own capability development plans.

U.S. Strategic Command, Air Mobility Command and U.S. Air Forces in Europe were among some of the agencies that participated. Each organization specializes in, or supports, some aspect of nuclear and conventional deterrence.

“Our ultimate goal is to deter large-scale aggression, so this has more to do with war avoidance than war waging,” Clark said. “GE 16 will help us advocate for the resources we’ll need to extend the capability gap between our nation and potential adversaries. In this way, Global Engagement 16 serves as a means to prevent or limit conventional war while maintaining a blanket of security for our allies."

The GE 16 Global Strike Workshop is one of several war gaming sessions AFGSC plays a key role in annually. These sessions, coupled with the Strategic Vigilance war game and exercises like Global Thunder and Global Lightning, ensure the command maintains an ever-evolving deterrence capability according to Clark.