Army, Air Force join forces during live fire exercise
RODRIGUEZ LIVE FIRE COMPLEX, South Korea — Soldiers, aviators and Airmen came together at the Digital Multipurpose Range Complex on Sept. 6 here to conduct Joint Exercise Gunsmoke as part of Operation Wolfhound Maul being conducted by 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.
Soldiers from the 1-27th Infantry Regiment were joined by Army aviators from the 4-2nd Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division and Air Force pilots from the 36th and 25th Fighter Squadrons, 51st Fighter Wing, Osan Air Base.
Also participating in the exercise were five Airmen from the 25th Air Support Operations Squadron, 1st Air Support Operations Group, Wheeler Army Air Field.
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 for 1-27th Infantry Regiment. “This allows the maneuver commander to have hands on experience conducting a mission with multiple assets at his disposal.”
In addition to mortar fire provided by 1-27th Infantry Regiment and artillery fire from 1st Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, 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 4-2nd ARB’s two AH-64 D Apaches.
Joint training such as this helps Army and Air Force personnel work together at the team level, said Tech. Sgt. Glen Derra, a joint terminal tactical controller with 25th ASOS. Training at a live range such as this allows Airmen to get experience working with Army ground forces which is critical for operators.
“We’ve gotten a lot of good training working with Soldiers on the ground,” said Capt. Michael Harmison, commander for A Company, 4-2nd ARB. “Talking air assets onto targets from the ground can be tough, so the more practice the better.”
This type of training prepares Soldiers for future contingency missions and deployments by giving them experience in deconflicting airspace to safely utilize multiple fire assets during a mission.
“Air space deconfliction can be challenging without the proper experience,” said Stanley. “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. Soldiers gaining experience working with them in training environments helps to prepare them for executing those missions in real world engagements.”
“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,” said Harmison.
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.
“This is no easy task,” said Stanley. “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.”
“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,” said Harmison. “Being able to practice this communication in a training environment allows us to be better prepared for communicating in the future during combat operations.”
The full spectrum training being conducted by 1-27th Infantry Regiment is helping to ensure that our Soldiers and Airmen are prepared to provide security to the Pacific region and are able to engage enemy forces anywhere they may deploy.
“From a fire support role, this is truly full spectrum operations,” said Stanley. “All indirect fire support systems, as well as combat aviation and close air support were utilized in this training.”
“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,” said Derra.