Army partners with Air Force for training
Sgt. Daniel Johnson
2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division
RODRIGUEZ LIVE FIRE COMPLEX, Korea — Soldiers and airmen came together at the Digital Multipurpose Range Complex, here, Sept. 6, to conduct Joint Exercise “Gunsmoke” as part of “Operation Wolfhound Maul” conducted by 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.
Soldiers of the 1-27th were joined by Army aviators from 4th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regt., 2nd Combat Avn. Brigade, 2nd Inf. Division, and Air Force pilots from the 36th and 25th Fighter Squadrons, 51st Fighter Wing, Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea.
Also participating in the exercise were five airmen from the 25th Air Support Operations Squadron, 1st Air Support Operations Group, from Wheeler Army Airfield. These joint forces were able to produce a realistic training environment for all assets to train.
“The purpose of today’s training was the integration of air assets, as well as indirect fire assets from mortars and artillery,” said Capt. Jason Stanley, fire support officer, 1-27th. “This allows the maneuver commander to have hands-on experience conducting a mission with multiple assets at his disposal.”
“Air space deconfliction can be challenging without the proper experience,” Stanley continued. “It is critical for the fire support teams on the ground to be able to turn off artillery in order to allow air assets to provide support.
“Working with the Air Force is a common practice when deployed,” Stanley explained, adding that the experience Soldiers gain helps to prepare them for executing missions in real-world engagements.
“This is no easy task,” Stanley added. “The more assets you are managing, the more difficult it becomes to ensure everyone is on the same page. Successfully executing a mission as they have done today helps to boost their confidence.”
“From a fire support role, this is truly full-spectrum operations,” he continued. “All indirect fire support systems, as well as combat aviation and close air support, were utilized in this training.”
Besides mortar fire provided by the 1-27th, and artillery fire from 1st Bn., 15th Field Artillery Regt., 1st Armored BCT, 2nd Inf. Div., the Air Force provided two A-10/C Thunderbolt IIs and two F-16 CM Fighting Falcons to augment the close combat air support provided by two AH-64 D Apaches from 4-2nd, 2nd CAB.
Joint training, such as this, helps Army and Air Force personnel work together at the team level, said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Glen Derra, joint terminal tactical controller, 25th ASOS. Training at a live range allows airmen to get experience working with Army ground forces, which is critical for operators.
“Having the Air Force and the Army forces working so closely with each other helps to ensure security for the Pacific region by preparing our troops for future contingency missions by utilizing realistic training,” Derra added.
“We’ve gotten a lot of good training working with Soldiers on the ground,” said Capt. Michael Harmison, commander, Company A, 4-2nd, 2nd CAB. “Talking air assets onto targets from the ground can be tough, so the more practice, the better.”
“We are much more effective and able to destroy the enemy quicker if we have an experienced crew on the ground that can rapidly talk the aircraft onto the target,” Harmison explained.
This joint mission was not a simple endeavor. Soldiers conducting the mission from the ground were required to manage multiple variables all while maintaining situational awareness of the battlefield.
“When we start putting infantry with aviation and then add in Air Force, the communication and the languages of our professions can cause some confusion,” Harmison said. “Being able to practice this communication in a training environment allows us to be better prepared for communicating in the future during combat operations.”