HULMAN FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ind. – Fourteen members of the 181st Intelligence Wing’s 113th Air Support Operations Squadron recently returned from a ten-day exercise, Red Flag Alaska 13-3, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska Aug. 1, 2013.
“Exposing our airmen to the amount of planning and situational awareness needed to conduct close air support during major combat operations was great,” said Maj. Ryan Harvey, 113 ASOS Brigade Air Liaison Officer. “Most of our guys have only had experience in the counter-insurgency arena and the exposure to a high threat scenario was eye-opening.”
The mission of a Tactical Air Control Party airman is to call in air strikes on the enemy in support of friendly forces. These air strikes are done in close proximity to friendly forces with the TACP often under enemy fire.
“Red Flag provided me a real-world experience to integrate with the Army and teach the Army what the Air Force and TACPs bring to the fight,” said Staff Sgt. Karl Ackerman 113th ASOS Tactical Air Control Party member.
Red Flag Alaska provides field training exercises for U.S. and allied forces, to conduct air-to-air combat training, bomb dropping and large force employment training in a simulated combat environment.
“We had the opportunity to control three missions with the Ft. Wayne A-10s and conduct integrated ground movements with the Army,” said Ackerman. “We were forced to build plans on the fly and I was able to train and integrate with the Army for the first time.”
“Our airmen were able to adapt to a number of factors beyond their control and still showcase their technical skills,” said Harvey. “Their flexibility resulted in some great airborne jump training, army maneuver training, and opposed close air support training.”
While there the unit took part in exercises containing a total of 60 aircraft and 2,600 personnel, including Air Force, Air National Guard, Navy and Marines as well as forces from Australia and the Republics of South Korea and Japan. States represented from the U.S. military included Alaska, California, Washington, Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana and Oklahoma.