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Nodal Lightning enhances rapid global mobility

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Hunter Ware, 5th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-17 Globemaster III aircraft integrated flight control systems technician, scans the area for simulated unexploded ordnances during Exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Hunter Ware, 5th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-17 Globemaster III aircraft integrated flight control systems technician, scans the area for simulated unexploded ordnances during Exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2 at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, Oct. 19, 2020. Post Attack Reconnaissance teams also look for chemical contamination and damage to buildings, vehicles and more. Exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2 tested Airmen on operating in a contested, degraded or operationally limited environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kenneth Boyton)

Airmen with the 724th Air Mobility Squadron tend to a simulated injury during exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2

Airmen with the 724th Air Mobility Squadron tend to a simulated injury during exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2 at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Oct. 21, 2020. Nodal Lightning was a week-long readiness exercise for air mobility units around U.S. Air Forces in Europe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas S. Keisler IV)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Aaron Rivette, 724th Air Mobility Squadron member, participates in exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Aaron Rivette, 724th Air Mobility Squadron member, participates in exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2 at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Oct. 20, 2020. Nodal lightning was a readiness exercise that demonstrated how the 724th AMS would operate in a contested environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas S. Keisler IV)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Thomas White and U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kyle Pease, 721st Aerial Port Squadron passenger service agents, prepare to conduct post-attack reconnaissance sweeps during exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Thomas White and U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kyle Pease, 721st Aerial Port Squadron passenger service agents, prepare to conduct post-attack reconnaissance sweeps during exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Oct. 19, 2020. Two-man teams are used during PAR sweeps. One Airman is responsible for identifying possible contaminants in the air and any unexploded ordinances, the other Airman communicates findings to the unified combatant command. Exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2’s objective on Ramstein was to execute live events focused on executing the mission in a contested, degraded, and/or operationally limited environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Milton Hamilton)

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 721st Air Mobility Operations Group, Ramstein Air Base, Germany prepares pallets to be loaded on a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft during a multi-capable Airmen lift-and-shift training, Nodal Lightning 20-2.

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 721st Air Mobility Operations Group, Ramstein Air Base, Germany prepares pallets to be loaded on a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft during a multi-capable Airmen lift-and-shift training, Nodal Lightning 20-2 at Stuttgart Army Airfield, Germany, Oct. 19, 2020. Nodal Lightning 20-2’s objective is to test the 521st Air Mobility Operation Wing’s ability to execute a major theater operation plan in a contested, degraded and operationally limited environment. 721st AMOG training and exercises aim to build a more lethal force, an objective of the National Defense Strategy, by prioritizing assets that can deploy, survive, operate, maneuver and regenerate in all domains. (U.S. Army photos by Yvonne Najera)

A U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the 721st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron inspects a hydraulic servicing line on a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft during exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2

A U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the 721st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron inspects a hydraulic servicing line on a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft during exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Oct. 21, 2020. The 721st AMXS Airmen conducted a simulated C-17 Globemaster III aircraft tire replacement in full Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) 4 gear, to train on how to complete maintenance tasks in a degraded environment. Exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2’s objective was to execute live events focused on executing the mission in a contested, degraded, and/or operationally limited environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Milton Hamilton)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Karissa Kayfes, 5th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply airman, and Master Sgt. Kris Savell, 5th EAMS production superintendent, conduct a post-attack reconnaissance sweep during Exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Karissa Kayfes, 5th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply airman, and Master Sgt. Kris Savell, 5th EAMS production superintendent, conduct a post-attack reconnaissance sweep during Exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2 at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, Oct. 19, 2020. PAR sweeps act as a training tool to test Airmen on operating in a contested, degraded or operationally limited environment. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. Brandon Wright)

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to 725th Air Mobility Squadron conduct gear inspection during exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2.

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to 725th Air Mobility Squadron conduct gear inspection during exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2 at Naval Station Rota, Spain, Oct. 20, 2020. Exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2 demonstrates the ability of the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing units across U.S. Europe Command and U.S. Central Command theaters to operate in a contested, degraded, and/or operationally limited environment supporting U.S. Transportation Command requirements and mission essential tasks under relevant contingency scenarios. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class John J. Owen.)

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 721st Air Mobility Operations Group, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, load a vehicle on to a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft during a multi-capable Airmen lift-and-shift training exercise, Nodal Lightning 20-2.

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 721st Air Mobility Operations Group, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, load a vehicle on to a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft during a multi-capable Airmen lift-and-shift training exercise, Nodal Lightning 20-2 at the Stuttgart Army Airfield, Germany, Oct. 19, 2020. Nodal Lightning 20-2’s objective is to test the 521st Air Mobility Operation Wing’s ability to execute a major theater operation plan in a contested, degraded and operationally limited environment. 721st AMOG training and exercises aim to build a more lethal force, an objective of the National Defense Strategy, by prioritizing assets that can deploy, survive, operate, maneuver and regenerate in all domains. (U.S. Army photo by Yvonne Najera)

U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Ivan Sawyer, 721st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft craftsman, inspects a hydraulic system on a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft
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U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Ivan Sawyer, 721st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft craftsman, inspects a hydraulic system on a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft while dawning full Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) 4 gear, during exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Oct. 21, 2020. Sawyer tested the hydraulic system before propping the aircraft up to simulate changing one of its main landing tires. Nodal Lightning 20-2’s objective was to execute live events focused on executing the mission in a contested, degraded, and/or operationally limited environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Milton Hamilton)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jarom Johnston, attached to the 521st Air Mobility Squadron pulls blocks from U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III wheels during exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2.
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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jarom Johnston, attached to the 521st Air Mobility Squadron pulls blocks from U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III wheels during exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2 at Naval Station Rota, Spain, Oct. 20, 2020. Exercise Nodal Lightning 20-2 demonstrates the ability of the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing units across U.S. Europe Command and U.S. Central Command theaters to operate in a contested, degraded, and/or operationally limited environment supporting U.S. Transportation Command requirements and mission essential tasks under relevant contingency scenarios. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class John J. Owen.)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- The 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing conducted its second iteration of exercise Nodal Lightning at Ramstein AB and several geographically separated units from Oct. 19-24, 2020.

Exercises such as Nodal Lightning enable the 521st AMOW to test future operating concepts and clearly define assets and manpower that can be transported quickly and efficiently for contingency missions, which helps to strengthen their priorities of full spectrum readiness and mobility operations in a contested environment.

“Nodal Lightning is the AMOW’s full spectrum readiness exercise that tests the entirety of the eastern route, across 15 countries and two areas of responsibility, in an integrated peer threat scenario,” said Col. Adrienne Williams, 521st AMOW commander. “The exercise tested our ability to perform our core operations under contested and limited conditions. It also tested the ability to execute the en route mission set at any permissive operating location, all while sustaining rapid global mobility at our current nodal locations.”

The exercise’s number one priority was to strengthen a multi-capable Airmen concept called “lift-and-shift” throughout the 521st AMOW. A lift-and-shift is a quick relocation for airlift in the event primary runways are unusable.

“Our multi-capable Airmen are the platform that enables agile employment capabilities,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Kelley, 521st AMOW inspector general. “During this exercise, we wanted to test the en route functions in a small footprint package, while maneuvering within existing infrastructure where established en route capabilities were not already in place.”

During a lift-and-shift mission, the 521st AMOW can use a small specialized team of approximately 25 Airmen who can perform multiple tasks needed to move assets quickly.

“We are training, testing and shaping how 521st AMOW Airmen can fill each other’s roles, so we can send a package of Airmen to different runways and have a team set to support incoming aircraft,” Kelley said. “It allows us the platform to further hone and refine how we support rapid global mobility.”

Exercise Nodal Lightning’s goal was to demonstrate that the 521st AMOW, and its tenant units located in U.S. European Command and U.S. Central Command, have the ability to operate in a contested, degraded or operationally limited environment during contingency operations.

The exercise, and the multi-capable Airmen concept, support and test other evolving operational concepts within the U.S. Air Force, including Agile Combat Employment. The ACE concept is intended to ensure U.S. Air Forces in Europe are ready for potential contingencies by enabling forces to operate from locations with varying levels of capacity and support. It is a major focus area for U.S. Air Force senior leaders in the European and the Pacific areas of responsibility as threats and operational environments rapidly evolve. The 521st AMOW is on the leading edge of testing the concept within Air Mobility Command.

“Nodal Lightning is part of a greater proof of concept,” Williams said. “We are refining how we support rapid global mobility and accelerating change to ensure global reach.”