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    Photo By Sgt. Connie Jones | Soldiers with 7th Special Forces Group and members of the Chilean Special Forces...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Christopher Shannon 

    102d Public Affairs Detachment

    GULFPORT, Miss. - From the sites used for training to multiple air assets hovering overhead supporting the mission, there is a lot of planning and detail that goes into an exercise as complex as Southern Strike 2018.

    “Southern Strike 2018 is the largest integration exercise that is led and hosted by the Air National Guard that incorporates special operation forces as well as conventional forces,” said David Sutherland, program manager for the exercise. “All those units come here to be able to integrate in with Air National Guard and Army National Guard platforms that they will then deploy with in the future and have that capability, so that the first time they are doing that isn’t when they are in combat.”

    Planning is an essential part to the exercise’s success because of its breadth and multiple entities.

    It took about 14 months of planning along with four meetings to construct this two-week-long exercise, said Sutherland.

    “Southern Strike 18 is different than past years because we have scoped the exercise down in size and focused it more to align it with the Battlefield Airmen and Air National Guard’s training deficiencies for combat readiness,” said Sutherland.

    Also during the planning process, the exercise was accredited by the Joint National Training Capability, said William Savage, the strategic ground planner of Southern Strike 2018.

    They planned this year’s Southern Strike so that by the end of each duty day, a training objective would have been completed, said Sutherland.

    All the missions from beginning to end of the exercise will escalate to a single grand final objective requiring a total force response to accomplish, said Savage.

    The largest part of planning this exercise was building all the full mission profiles for the exercise, said Sutherland

    A full mission profile, or FMP, is the detailed plan of a mission or scenario that includes multiple organizations, personnel and equipment, and descriptions of each piece’s or person’s role and location throughout the mission to collectively reach one common goal, said Sutherland.

    A FMP is done for each scenario. As the scenario progresses, the integration of the missions will build on each other to form a more detailed and comprehensive operation that meets the training needs of each participating unit. Additionally, each scenario builds on past scenarios to advance the "story" of the exercise and set up future scenarios.

    “It is great for the participants to come down here and train at Southern Strike because we do full mission profiles that incorporate all the air players and ground players to form a joint force that has a common goal,” said Sutherland.

    Mission profiles are being used to enhance the level of training received at the exercise.

    “Most of your exercises actually do more of a task to training or part task training where they specifically look at unit level training to do one task, or two or three tasks at a time to where we do the full spectrum of the operations with this one exercise,” said Sutherland.

    This makes the training done in this exercise a more realistic operating environment to mimic the operational flow encountered in a deployed setting, said Sutherland.

    Although Southern Strike 2018 has just ended, plans for the next are already coming together.

    "We already have an internal report of what could have been better and what went well; and we have already started planning the next Southern Strike," said Savage.

    After action reports, which provide positive and negative feedback from the units, will help them build a better Southern Strike, said Savage.



    Date Taken: 10.31.2017
    Date Posted: 12.06.2017 09:37
    Story ID: 253599
    Location: GULFPORT, MS, US 

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