News: 124th Fighter Wing provide sole A-10 support for Combined Resolve II
Story by Lt. Col. Gary Daniel
GERMANY - Unaffected by the spotlight from U.S. Army Europe, NATO, and European-Partner nations, the Idaho Air National Guard successfully provided crucial Close Air Support (CAS) during last month’s Combined Resolve II exercise.
Over 100 Idaho Air National Guard pilots, aircraft maintenance professionals, and support personnel participated in the multi-national training exercise. Seven A-10C Thunderbolt II fighters from the 124th Fighter Wing flew CAS missions to support the more than 4,000 forces on the ground in Germany. The U.S. Army-Europe led fourteen other participating European nations’ military forces through six weeks of training using their most advanced equipment that they have stationed in the European Theater.
For more than half of that time, the “Hawgs” of the 124th Fighter Wing provided close air cover to maneuvering troops in the German countryside. This meant mastering flying in German airspace under rules different than the “Skull bangers” of the 190th Fighter Squadron routinely comply with stateside.
“We weren’t allowed to use our full (instrument flying) capabilities found with SADL (Situational Awareness Data Link), so we turned off our SADL for about a month before deploying and used older time-proven techniques,” said Maj. Brian “Digger” Daigle. Daigle planned and coordinated the expedition and served as detachment commander in Germany.
In his first overseas duty, 1st Lt. Bud Munns echoed Daigle’s sentiment. “You have to increase your cockpit crosschecks and maintain higher situational awareness. Overall, this experience helps your pilot skills,” he said.
In previous European exercises on this scale, the Army could count on support from A-10 units permanently stationed forward in Europe. The Skullbangers operated from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany—the previous home to the 81st
“We had quite a bit of clean up before we could store the aircraft, in Protected Aircraft Structures (PAS). It was our wing’s first fighter operations out of Europe since the mid 1990s,” said Chief Master Sgt. Steven Lewis.
According to Lewis and Daigle, the Idahoans overcame many unexpected operating constraints. “We had a tougher commute than we planned for from off base, but better weather than anticipated—even some sunburns on the flight line,” said Lewis.
“The people who deployed (to Combined Resolve) got very good training and I’m hopeful they will pass this on to others,” said Lewis “I was really proud of everyone.”
“That wingtip clearance taxiing out (of a PAS) was very slight,” said Daigle, “the cover also restricted our GPS reception during preflight.”
Despite some weather cancellations over some target areas, 124th Operations Group Commander Col. Paul Kingsley called the effort overall a success. “The best measure is they’ve (the US Army Europe) asked us to come back,” he said.