111th OG participates in joint force training exercise

  • Published
  • By Jon Dahms and Staff Sgt. Acosta
  • Air National Guard

The 111th Operations Group here joined forces with three other Wings for a multifaceted training exercise that included Tactical Air Control Party specialists, a C-17 Globemaster III and MQ-9 Reaper at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, Aug. 24, 2002.

Airmen from the 111th OG, TACP specialists from the 148th Air Support Operations Squadron, and members of the 305th Air Mobility Wing and its associate reserve unit, the 514th Air Mobility Wing, took part in a two-part joint exercise that included the integration of the MQ-9 Reaper’s ability to support ground troops and coordinate support for a C-17 Globemaster III flying over simulated hostile territory at training at FIG’s Bollen Range.

Pennsylvania Air National Guard Lt. Col. Steven F. Irwin, Director of Operations for the 103rd Attack Squadron here, described the training objectives.

“We wanted to conduct training in real-time within a dynamic real-world environment,” said Irwin. “We also wanted to provide support for the 148th ASOS and the 732nd Airlift Squadron so they can accomplish their desired learning objectives.”

In scenario one, members of the 148th ASOS, a subordinate unit of the 193rd Special Operations Wing in Middletown, Pennsylvania, conducted ground operations that simulated capturing an enemy stronghold in hostile territory, while simultaneously integrating the 111th OG’s MQ-9 Reaper’s capabilities to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance as well as armed overwatch and close air support.

PAANG Capt. Tyler J. Trocano, TACP Officer, Joint Terminal Attack Controller, 148th ASOS, described the elements that made the training a success.

“The TACPs from the 148th ASOS executed mission planning and training in satellite communications, close air support execution procedures utilizing an MQ-9 from the 103rd ATKS, tactical combat casualty care and medical evacuation at Bollen Range,” said Trocano. “Our training was great and we met our desired learning objectives.”

Trocano made sure to emphasize why working with the MQ-9 was so effective.

“Most of our TACP's during the training evolution had not controlled a live MQ-9 before,” said Trocano. “So, it was great to adapt our CAS flow accordingly to utilize the MQ-9 effectively.”

In scenario two, a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from the 305th Air Mobility Wing, and its associate reserve unit the 514th Air Mobility Wing, based at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, practiced flying a resupply mission with a low-level ingress into a simulated hostile location while responding to surface to air missiles fired by an enemy. The crew of the C-17 included two 111th OG personnel, who assisted in integrating MQ-9 support by providing real time intelligence updates and armed overwatch in addition to identification and clearance of any threats present during the mission. The C-17 also practiced performing defensive maneuvers that included dispensing flares.

Irwin said this exercise was unique for multiple reasons.

“This is the first time we have trained with the 148th ASOS,” said Irwin. “Typically, our training scenarios are shorter and less dynamic. This mission allowed us to work together for nearly two hours, better emulating a more real-world mission.”

“This is also the first time we provided overwatch for a C-17 simulated insertion to a hostile environment,” said Irwin. “It is also the first time we had a pilot and sensor on a C-17."

Irwin said the exercise allowed his wingmen to learn and experience first-hand execution of a complete tactical sortie that included air refueling, low- level threat avoidance, knowledge of the C-17’s capabilities, as well as the workload of its aircrew, in a tactical environment. In return for their invaluable experience, the 111th OG participants were able to share their knowledge and the capabilities of the MQ-9.

Irwin went on to thank all of the participants involved in the training.

“We had excellent support from the members that run Bollen Range,” said Irwin. “I want to thank them as well as the 148th ASOS, 732nd Airlift Squadron, and all the members of the 111th OG, who made this training successful.”

“Everyone was eager and willing to maximize this opportunity to learn how we can make it better next time,” said Irwin. “Our plan is to do events like this at Bollen Range on a regular basis, and to also take advantage of integrating with other assets, such as A-10's AND F-16s.”

Irwin believes such training events help reveal the areas in which we must improve while strengthening our capabilities as Airmen in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve to remain ready for active-duty service.

“It should not be forgotten that the 111th OG and the 148th ASOS are ANG units with Drill Status Guardsmen,” said Irwin. “And, the 732nd AS is an Air Force Reserve Command unit with Traditional Reservist participating. Many members taking part in this training were true Citizen Airmen, some on summer break and others took days off from civilian jobs. We are not here every day to train, or execute our missions, but we are expected to be ready any day we are called upon. Opportunities like this go a long way to making that a reality.”