News: 116th Air Control Squadron hosts joint training exercise
Story by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel
WARRENTON, Ore. - The Oregon Air National Guard’s 116th Air Control Squadron based at Camp Rilea, Ore., conducted a two-week training exercise, Sept., 12-28., hosting the 109th ACS from Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
The exercise involved the Nimitz Carrier group and other joint tactical components. The fleet synthetic training exercise, a program that is port of the Fleet Readiness Training Program is to prepare and certify a strike group for deployment, according to Grant Ayres, a senior military analyst with the U.S. Fleet Command Joint Training Team.
A normal cycle for this training is done over an 18-month period, which cover the entire deployment cycle form the time a strike group returns from deployment to when they prepare for the next mission.
“Some of the time has been compressed due to real-world situations and because of fiscal constraints. Ultimately, this type of training saves money and time,” said Ayres.
The goal is to simulate many of the aspects that a sailor at sea would experience, and working in a joint environment with air and ground assets.
“It is always good to work with joint crews of the Army, Navy and Air Force, wall working together in a particular mission and with our sister unit, the 116th ACS,” said Maj. Leon McGuire, 109th ACS director of operations.
Large force exercises that involve various services are expensive and the virtual environment can create unique opportunities for training, said Ayres.
“So when you’re looking at a Guard unit that has a limited amount of resources and limited amounts of time, this type of training exercise can benefit a multitude of tour training requirements in one exercise,” said McGuire.
“It’s a big win for us,” he said.
Ongoing training requirements for air crew members require different types of events both with the Air Force directly and in the joint exercise.
“The partnership we have with the 109th ACS has been developing for several years and it allows our facility to work as a hub for them to train and work on this exercise,” said Lt. Col. James Mitchell, 116th Air Squadron Commander.
During the week of training, the joint crews are able to share knowledge and sharpen their skills. This allows members to work in different air spaces while cross training directly one-on-one between the two ACS units.
“It is great to come to the west coast and work with the 142nd Fighter Wing and their F-15’s, because this a different aircraft and weapons system than the F-16’s at Hill AFB we normally work with,” said McGuire.
Several members of the 116th ACS supported the training of the 109th ACS members during the fleet synthetic training exercise. By providing maintenance support and operational air space control, they were able to ensure overall mission success.
As the Navy provided the data and information for the exercise conditions, in turn it was processed by the airmen from both the 109th and 116th Air Control Data System Specialist.
“If we get information that different aircraft will be flying or information has changed on the ground, I am entering the material into our system,” said Tech. Sgt. Douglas Hawkins, 116th Air Control Data Systems Specialist.
Checking the system for errors and the overall integrity allows Hawkins to work with the 109th members and deflect any unforeseen issues with the training. Once the information is loaded, other operators can decipher and identify the assets.
“After the information is available I can see the point and can identify anything that is flying in and around the air space,” said Senior Airman Brittani Schammen, 116th surveillance technician.
Assisting the 109th ACS with the materials and personnel helps both organizations stay sharp, said Mitchell. Throughout the exercise the information provided the Nimitz group with the intelligence and assets to complete the exercise on time.
“With all the different requirements in a large force exercise, we get extra and valuable training supporting our sister squadron complete their training mission too,” said Mitchell.