News: Air Support Operations Squadron trains in Idaho Sawtooth National Forest for potential future deployments to Afghanistan
Story by Tech. Sgt. Becky Vanshur
SAWTOOTH NATIONAL FOREST, Idaho – Members of the 124th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS) of the Idaho Air National Guard participate in intense, rugged outdoor training during exercise Mountain Fury II, throughout the Idaho Sawtooth National Forest, June 19-27, to prepare for potential future deployments.
Idaho has ideal training environments that simulate those found in Afghanistan, with wide open desert and plant filled mountainous terrain, as well as ample air space for military aircraft. Thanks to careful planning with the U.S. Forest Service and the Federal Aviation Administration in Salt Lake City the 124th ASOS is able to save money by training close to home.
While ASOS spent most of the Mountain Fury II exercise down on the Afghanistan mirrored terrain, they used several other air assets to train to their fullest potential. With the support of the Idaho Air National Guard 190th Fighter Squadron and A-10 Thunderbolt II, Idaho Army National Guard 1-183rd Aerial Reconnaissance Battalion Apache helicopters, 728th Air Control Squadron from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, and B Company, 1-214th General Support Aviation Battalion and CH-47 Chinook Helicopters from Fort Lewis, Wash., the Mountain Fury II was a successful deployment preparation.
Second Lt. Randell Schmidt, Joint Terminal Attack Controller and Air Liaison Officer is also the Officer in Charge of this year’s annual training, Operation Mountain Fury II.
“Boise and the surrounding areas are perfect training for Afghanistan terrain. We’ve got the mountains here with nice high elevation and low flats in the desert. In 30 minutes you can be high in the mountain tops or down in desert. We’ve got the best of both worlds in Idaho,” Schmidt said.
On the hillside, Radio Operation Maintainer and Drivers, as well as Joint Terminal Attack Controllers from the 124th ASOS, observe a simulated enemy in a valley below. They carefully watch the activity through PVS 14 Monocular Night Vision Goggles, PLRF-15C Pocket Laser Range Finders and other PVS 15 NVGs to gather intelligence on the simulated enemy. The ROMADs and JTACs send this information to A-10‘s and AH-64‘s hovering overhead as they call in close air support on the enemy.
ASOS and the close air support aircraft worked from day into the dark of the night to perform these tactics and practice night reconnaissance. With the help of Army Reservist from B Company, 1-214th GSAB flying the U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook Helicopter, ASOS members were transported to various locations to perform this intense training. This type of joint service training gives a realistic sample of what it will be like when they deploy in support of military operations, especially those in Afghanistan.
Chief Warrant Officer 4, Bryan Campbell, a pilot from Fort Lewis, Wash., spent many hours flying over Idaho’s landscape during Mountain Fury II this week transporting ASOS members.
“The training we’ve been conducting with the Air Guard in Idaho has been incredibly valuable to us. In addition to helping ASOS and other members involved, our aircrews get to maintain combat proficiency as well. It provides us with a unique opportunity to conduct joint operations, giving us insight on how the Air Guard trains and prepares for future deployments and future joint operations,” Campbell said.
This work, Air Support Operations Squadron trains in Idaho Sawtooth National Forest for potential future deployments to Afghanistan, by MSgt Becky Vanshur, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.