24 SOW D-Cell, pioneers of ACE concept, hone arctic skills in Alaska

Agile Combat Employment is one of the most talked-about concepts in the Air Force. The ability to rapidly deploy and establish forward operating locations, manned by multi-capable Airmen, is the way the Air Force is crafting the future of warfare.

The Airmen of the 24th Special Operations Wing, Detachment 1, also known as Deployment Cell or “D-Cell,” have been doing just this for over 60 years.

The unit, based out of MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, consists of 54 members across 15 career fields, forming four agile teams. These teams of multi-capable Airmen are trained in 49 cross-functional tasks including Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape, or SERE, training, advanced shooting, and advanced combat casualty care.

The primary role of D-Cell is to “bare base,” which is to rapidly turn undeveloped locations into fully functional bases.

“The unique thing about us is that we have small teams that can go anywhere,” said Master Sgt. Nathan Johnson, a logistics superintendent and D-Cell Bravo Flight lead. “And because we can do other jobs, we can set up a bare base extremely fast, extremely efficiently.”

Due to working in such light and agile teams, being multi-capable Airmen is essential for mission success.

“Most of our Airmen are at – and I can say this comfortably – at probably a three-level in each other’s career fields, and some even a five-level,” said Master Sgt. Sammy Bridges, security forces superintendent and D-Cell Delta Flight lead.

“If I fall out, the next guy on my team, even though he might be a power [production] guy working on a generator, or he might be a services guy, guess what? He can still upload an aircraft,” added Staff Sgt. Jonathan Webb, an air transportation craftsman. “That [multi-capable Airman] concept is more than what you think it is.”

Airmen conduct a simulated combat training in extreme-cold conditions

Special Tactics Airmen assigned to the 24th Special Operations Wing, Detachment 1, also known as Deployment Cell or “D-Cell”, approach an Alaska National Guard UH-60L Black Hawk, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, during a training exercise at Camp Mad Bull on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Jan. 10, 2023. Based out of MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, D-Cell consists of 54 members across 15 job codes forming four agile teams, whose primary role is to “bare base” – to rapidly turn undeveloped locations into fully functional bases. The unit visited Alaska to train and test their capabilities in an arctic environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Patrick Sullivan)

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