Austere Challenge Exercise Receives Support from Michigan Airmen Published Aug. 9, 2023 By By Capt. Jacob Murray 110th Wing STUTTGART, Germany -- STUTTGART, Germany— Airmen from the 217th Air Component Operations Squadron (ACOS) based in Battle Creek Air National Guard Base provided crucial support to the U.S. European Command's Austere Challenge 2023 (AC23) exercise. The exercise, which took place from May 5-12, offered troops an invaluable opportunity to hone their skills in providing a synchronized response to a simulated major emergency. U.S. Air Force Col. Amanda Ward, commander of the 217th ACOS, expressed enthusiasm about the exercise, stating, "It was a great opportunity for the team. Exercises like Austere Challenge prepare the 217th AOG and USAFE staff to respond to crises in a timely and well-coordinated manner, which supports regional stability and security." Part of a long-standing exercise series established in the 1990s, Austere Challenge aims to enhance the readiness of U.S. forces and allied personnel to respond effectively to regional crises. Since 2009, the 217th ACOS has actively participated in this exercise, lending its expertise in various areas such as intelligence, operations, plans, logistics, and communications. One of the primary missions of the 217th ACOS is to seamlessly augment staff across the Air Force whenever necessary. AC23 provided officers and senior enlisted airmen from the 217th ACOS with the opportunity to deploy directly into staff positions within the U.S. Air Forces Europe (USAFE) and beyond. “Exercises like AC23 are what we do here in Battle Creek. Not only is this the direct mission that we train to, but we are also able to showcase our depth in operational planning expertise,” said U.S. Air Force Maj Mark Hanna, 217th ACOS air operations planner. “It is here that our members forge and strengthen partnerships, practice crisis response, and deterrence, and provide support to Allies and partners.” The 217th ACOS, frequently deploys within Michigan and across the globe to support staff planning, provide humanitarian aid, and execute additional Air Force missions.