FORT SILL, Okla. —
Airmen with the 6th Airlift Squadron assigned to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey and Soldiers with the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment assigned to Fort Sill, Oklahoma conducted an air-ground joint training exercise on Fort Sill Nov. 5.
The goal of the joint exercise was to familiarize new Soldiers in 3-2 ADA BN with their first hands-on experience of what they have been training for. It also supports the missions of Rapid Global Mobility and providing fires to protect the force and selected geopolitical assets from aerial attack, missile attack and surveillance. With knowledge and skill in understanding how to successfully work together, the training prepares sister services to defeat the full range of threats across the spectrum of operations.
“The point of this joint training is to learn how to work together within different branches,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Dunlap, 6th AS evaluator loadmaster. “When shit hits the fan we can go do what we have trained to do as a team as opposed to scrambling and not knowing what to look for from the ground and vice versa.”
After months of planning, the teams successfully loaded a Fort Sill M902 Patriot Missile Launcher pulled by a HEMTT M983A4 Light Equipment Transporter into a Joint Base MDL C-17 Globemaster III. Airlifting the M902 provides the Army global capability to deliver equipment to the right place in a faster and smarter fashion.
“We set it up like it’s a hostile environment which enables us to see how the different commands are able to work together between air and ground operations,” said Dunlap. “The Army gets to learn how to load and unload onto an aircraft whereas [the Air Force] gets to learn how to operate in their tactical environment. We train like we fight.”
After loading up the C-17, the Soldiers grabbed a seat and prepared for their first low-level flight exercise experience. Low-level flights are used to minimize exposure to threats that can be encountered in a combat environment. Incorporating this with an inter-service missile loading builds a more lethal and ready force against threats across the world.
“Exercises like this are beneficial to merge the Army’s needs and the Air Forces capabilities,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Mary Clare Curtin, 6th AS pilot. “This kind of training allows us both to identify and correct potential weaknesses and communication issues in a low-level environment before executing operationally.”
The teams successfully learned how to properly load and unload Army equipment onto Air Force aircraft along with practicing protocols and procedures for low-level flights in simulated hostile environments while increasing their communication skills with each other – creating a stronger more capable and integrated total force.
“I feel [this] was a very successful training exercise,” said Warrant Officer Bradley Sims, 31st Air Artillery Brigade mobility officer. “I look forward to hopefully working with [the Air Force] again in the future. I’m proud to say we were part of an extensive training event coordinated between two of the greatest military branches.”
This exercise showcased the 305th Air Mobility Wing’s mission of providing Rapid Global Mobility through airlift and mission support operations allowing the 3-2 ADA BN to continue bringing the fight to its adversaries and defending the skies with lethal fires.