Multi-Capable Airmen Concept in Action

  • Published
  • By Major Meghan Smith
  • 158th Fighter Wing

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt.,– A C-17 Globemaster III and Airmen from the New York Air National Guard's 105th Airlift Wing arrived at the South Burlington Air National Guard Base to train the 158th Fighter Wing in C-17 operations on Dec. 4, 2022.

Flying up from Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York in the lower Hudson Valley, the C-17 crew trained the Green Mountain Boys as part of the multi-capable Airmen concept. This has Airmen being trained in basic tasks that are outside of their career field, in order to make them more versatile and fulfill more mission requirements when needed.

“We invited them here to open discussions about how F-35s and C-17 units will fight together in the future,” said Capt. Kyle Mercer, director of operations for the 158th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “With the Agile Combat Employment concept we need to be light, quick and mobile. So, the Stewart crew came up here to talk with us about the C-17 mission that will support ACE in the future with moving cargo and people around.”

The F-35 is designed to integrate with a variety of U.S. and foreign aircraft. The 158th Fighter Wing routinely trains with other Air Force units to strengthen and maintain relationships to ensure an Air Force goal of working together as seamlessly in the sky as on the ground.

“This was about developing a relationship with the Stewart crews,” Mercer said. “A lot of our maintainers have some experience strapping cargo down and working with loadmasters but with the multi-capable Airman initiative we’re trying to get as much exposure to additional training as we can.”

The Air Force uses the multi-capable Airmen concept to employ Airmen more efficiently in operations. According to Air Force officials, having more multi-capable Airmen reduces the the number of Airmen that need to be deployed.

“The need to be agile and have multi-capable Airmen is crucial to the survivability of our forces in future combat operations,” said Col. Laura Caputo, commander of the 158th Maintenance Group.

Shortly after becoming the first fully mission capable Air National Guard F-35 unit, the 158th Fighter Wing deployed to Germany in support of ongoing NATO Air Shielding Missions deterring aggression and assuring allies in the region. This deployment also gave the Green Mountain Boys a chance to gain new skills, as well as putting them to use across Europe.

“While we were able to demonstrate some of these capabilities in EUCOM, [U.S. Air Force European Command] the need to improve and develop is ever present,” Caputo said. “I’m grateful to the Stewart Air National Guard team in helping provide a diverse training opportunity that will help us ready our Airmen, equipment and most importantly, our mindset.”