The 355th Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona this week has launched a training exercise to prepare rescue personnel to respond in deserts or other austere battlefields.

Bushwhacker 20-07, the latest in a series of Dynamic Wing exercises, launched Monday and will wrap up Friday, the 355th said in a release. Units from Davis-Monthan will work alongside Air Mobility Command and the Army to prepare personnel to rapidly deploy and carry out attack and rescue missions in austere environments, the release said.

It will include airplane and helicopter operations at locations between Davis-Monthan on the west and the Army’s Fort Bliss outside El Paso, Texas, on the east.

Residents of parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas can expect to see and hear additional military flight activity as part of the exercise this week, including some at night, the Air Force said.

“Davis-Monthan continues to practice agile operations with innovation and training to build a lethal, agile and resilient force,” Lt. Col. Rodney Dwyer, the 355th Wing’s plans and programs chief, said in the release. “Incorporating AMC and the U.S. Army this iteration allows further flexibility and opens the aperture to new possibilities. We are getting after the Dynamic Wing by building readiness, resiliency and relationships here" to support Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown’s call for the Air Force to “accelerate change."

The Air Force in recent years has sought to increase its wings' abilities to operate independently, in case of a major conflict in which a wing might be cut off from the rest of the Air Force and has to fend for itself. As part of this effort, Davis-Monthan’s 355th Wing has worked on the “Dynamic Wing” concept, in which a wing can pick up its pieces and go overseas in a large group.

This is the third exercise in which the 355th will train on dynamic force employment of this kind, with the first two coming in April 2019 and November 2019.

Last November’s Dynamic Wing exercises included Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters and HC-130J Combat King mobility aircraft, the Air Force’s only dedicated fixed-wing personnel recovery aircraft, at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. It also included airmen from the 355th Wing, as well as its geographically-separated 66th Rescue Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

Last year, participants were given limited resources, including one generator for 50 personnel at a “spoke” location at Fort Huachuca meant to simulate a forward operating base. The austere environments and spare resources were intended to get participants used to how they might have to operate in war.

Stephen Losey covers leadership and personnel issues as the senior reporter for Air Force Times. He comes from an Air Force family, and his investigative reports have won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover Air Force operations against the Islamic State.

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