JTAC Airmen train for real world at Ft. Riley

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jenna K. Caldwell
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
It was 110 degrees mid-day with no wind. Three special operations airmen sat side by side in the seats of the UH-60 Blackhawk awaiting their mission. Beads of sweat accumulated on their foreheads from wearing their combat gear.

The pilots swung around the field in position and hovered a few feet above the swirling grass as the men hit the ground running. Within minutes, the area was secure, an airstrike had been called in and the downed aircrew had been swept up seated safely on the Blackhawk that ascended back into the air.

There are few moments that can change the course of a mission like a properly executed air strike during a combat where the lives of service members are on the line. This was a training mission in Kansas, but it could have been a real-world event. The men are joint terminal attack control Airmen.

JTAC Airmen with the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron recently participated in a field training exercise as part of their biannual pre-deployment training June 20 - 23.

Hog Fest 2016 maintains combat mission-ready posture within the squadron to ensure all Airmen are proficiently trained, physically fit and mentally prepared to conduct full-spectrum, close air support operations with unified combatant commands world-wide.

The four-day exercise began with two days of classroom academics, hands-on training and field preparation. On day three of the exercise, the squadron formed up at the base camp and field operations began—running 24-hour operations.

“All air support combat personnel attached to an ASOS has to be trained up on particular JTAC skills to ensure they are combat ready,” said Tech Sgt. Beau French, 10th ASOS standardization and evaluation chief. “Airmen were refreshed on basic land navigation, vehicle navigation off-road, sight selection, camouflage techniques, [temporary outdoor camp] procedures, psychological defense and field skills.”

The 10th ASOS was accompanied for a joint service exercise by the Army National Guard, a C-130 Hercules aircrew with the Rosecrans Air National Guard, Missouri and survival evasion resistant and escape specialists from Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington and Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

“Joint operations enable us to be combat mission ready for any future event,” said Master Sgt. Lashawndra Ramsey, 10th ASOS support flight superintendent. “Because we support one mission, we train the way they train, so when they’re ready to go, we’re ready to go as well.”

The 10th ASOS, acting as pararescuemen, supported the Army led joint-training with downed-aircrew recovery operations. The exercise facilitated training for SERE Airmen and gave JTACs the opportunity to engage in simulated close air combat support.

Three JTAC Airmen rode on a Blackhawk where they secured the scene, identified personnel and recovered 10 aircrew members and two SERE trainees from the scene.

“Everything went fairly smooth and we worked well together,” said French. “There was no obstacle we couldn’t adapt to and overcome. At the end of the day, everybody is certified and ready to go to war.”