News: Mountain Roundup 2013 trains combined-joint warfighters
Story by Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho – A multinational combined-joint exercise dubbed Mountain Roundup 2013, kicks off here Sept. 30 and should end Oct. 19.
The exercise is part of the German Air Force Tornado Fighter Weapons Instructor Course Mission Employment (ME) Phase, and many of the visiting 100 aircraft have arrived.
More than 300 Germans and Canadians, and an equal number of U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force are participating in ground operations, close-air support (CAS), urban combatives, convoy operations, basic fighter maneuvers, counter air and multiple air-to-air training scenarios.
The goal is simple. Everyone involved hopes to provide more-integrated and proficient combined-joint forces.
“Virtually any contingency operation involving the U.S. Air Force will also involve joint partners and, in all probability, contain coalition partners,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Tapan Sen, 366th Fighter Wing Weapons and Tactics Flight commander. “Inexperienced aircrews profit from simply being airborne with 80 to 100 other aircraft; from the extremely busy radios to the complex plans addressing airspace and target area conflicts with other aircraft.”
In addition to the F-15E and F-15SG Strike Eagles assigned here, multiple EA-18G Growlers, F-15C Eagles, GR1 and GR4 Tornados, F-16 Falcons, A-10 Warthogs, F-18 Hornets, AV-8B Harriers, KC-135 Stratotankers, KC-130 Hercules, B-1B Lancers, CH-60 and CH-64 Blackhawks, and other NATO-, German- and U.S.-support aircraft will be participating.
The wide-array of aircraft makes the exercise equally beneficial to experienced aircrew.
“Veteran mission commanders from all countries and services refine their knowledge on their ability to command a successful mission during both peacetime training exercises and contingency operations,” said Sen.
The exercise is really about certifying German Air Force commanders, while bolstering international interoperability.
“Everybody brings different capabilities to the fight and speaks different languages, so the challenge at Mountain Roundup is to determine who the best person is to task with various jobs and then execute professionally,” said German Air Force Maj. Marcel Schlereth, ME phase manager. “This really takes the best from Green Flag and Red Flag, and is a training opportunity I would not want to miss.”
Earlier phases of German training are accomplished at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., where German aviators typically spend three years in continual training, exercising their capability with American partners at annual Mountain Roundups.
Ground troops also exercise their capabilities during the three-week exercise.
726th Air Control Squadron Airmen will conduct dozens of convoys, said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Anthony Massey, 726th ACS exercises, plans and programs NCO. During some convoys, aviators will get the opportunity to “attack” moving targets. Other convoys will give pilots the chance to protect the convoy from enemy ground forces during CAS scenarios.
A U.S. Marine Corps Supporting Arms Liaison Team (SALT) is scheduled to participate and provide Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) to support CAS missions in support of the ground maneuver.
U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Charles Watt, 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company SALT officer in-charge, will lead a combined-joint SALT team consisting of Marine Forward Air Controllers, and both German and U.S. Air Force JTACs.
“Our JTACs come with an assortment of communications and Tactical Air Control Party equipment to support CAS sorties,” said Watt. “Our SALT consists of two maneuver elements called Firepower Control Teams (FCT) with equipment capable of supporting joint, allied or coalition force maneuver elements.”
Aside from communicating with aviators, the SALT teams can integrate both ground and naval surface fires to support the ground commander’s scheme of maneuver, said Watt. The FCTs will occupy positions throughout the training area and conduct CAS in support of a simulated-ground element.
“We enable foreign militaries to capitalize on fire support provided by the U.S. military by embedding fire support experts within their ranks,” said Watt. “Mountain Roundup is an excellent opportunity for our SALT to use various CAS platforms.”
Mountain Home provide SALT ample occasions to conduct ground training, patrolling, urban operations, and establishing communications with higher and adjacent units, with various radio systems over long distances.
“Most importantly, this exercise allows us to integrate with other services,” said Watt.
This year marks the ninth time Mountain Home has hosted the training and, between ground combatives and air combat training, Mountain Roundup 2013 should provide more-integrated and proficient combined-joint forces to meet the challenges of today and the future.