NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — U.S. Air Force warfighters will join their Army partners in airdrops over the Nevada Test and Training Range May 31, as part of the Joint Forcible Entry Exercise.
The U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Fort Bragg, N.C., will make the trip to combine with USAF Special Tactics Teams, contingency response groups and members of the 820th RED HORSE in the U.S. Air Force Weapons School biannual collaboration that, according to an Air Force fact sheet, exercises the Air Force’s ability to tactically deliver and recover combat forces via air drops and combat landings in a contested environment.
“This is the only training for this type of operation that has the size and scope of the real thing for the Air Force,” said Air Force Maj. Allen Morris, JFEX project officer. “Our Army brothers add realism and expertise to the equation, and in execution we get to see real-world problems and outcomes play out in real-time.”
While recent budget shortfalls have made funding the exercise a challenge, improvements are still being made to integrate Army and Air Force assets in response to any future conflicts around the world.
“The Army has increased investments [time and energy] into planning command and control portions of this exercise; potentially providing a more strategic and operational impact than we’ve ever seen before,” Morris said.
While the JFEX is meant to be a challenge for aircrews and ground combat units involved, it’s just as much an evaluation of the mission leadership’s ability to efficiently integrate ground forces and dissimilar aircraft into one “strike package.”
Such complex coordination takes communication; and battle space communication is enhanced by the latest technology.
Introduced in this iteration of the exercise will be the Joint Fixed Installation Satellite Antenna which, when installed on an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, will provide real-time communications, information exchange, streaming video conferencing and unprecedented battle space situational awareness.
“This increase in situational awareness provides a clearer picture of the battle space than ever before,” he added.
Joint-service exercises like the JFEX have long been integral to maintaining cohesiveness between the Air Force and the Army in an era where a new conflict can spark at any moment around the world, said Morris.
“We train side-by-side, and train hard so that when the time comes to execute, we’re already familiar with each other’s operations,” Morris said. “The fact that we can both gain so much from this exercise speaks volumes to its importance to both services.”