The 163rd Fighter Squadron, 122nd Fighter Wing, along with the 122nd Operations and Maintenance Groups took part in a Green Flag-West air-land integration joint combat training exercise Sept. 7-23 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., as a part of their major pre-deployment spin-up.
The wing is part of the Indiana National Guard based in Fort Wayne, Ind.
“The opportunity to integrate with the Army in a realistic, large-scale force-on-force exercise is crucial to our readiness, ensuring we are prepared for every potential tasking,” said Capt. Daniel Parker, 163rd Fighter Squadron Green Flag 17-09 Project Officer. “The ability to train in the joint environment for Close Air Support, Airborne Strike Control, and Combat Search and Rescue, has enhanced our lethal efficiency and proven the warfighting capability of the 122nd FW.”
Green Flag is a realistic Close Air Support exercise intended to increase readiness in regards to the employment of air, space and cyber power in conjunction with ground force operations. The exercise provides a unique environment that allows fighter squadrons and their support units to obtain critical joint training as well as test the most sophisticated technology available prior to deployment.
“Green Flag West 17-09 was an incredible opportunity for our Total Force Airmen in the 163rd FS to amplify their readiness by training in a realistic joint environment with the Army,” said Maj Dustin “Reno” Sanders, 549th CTS Director of Operations at Green Flag. “Additionally, they were able to participate in the operational testing of Digitally Aided CAS, an innovation which will modernize both our airborne and ground platforms as well as increase lethality.”
The training exercise included live-fire exercises as well as a full scale Combat Search and Rescue simulation that took place at Fort Irwin National Training Center, California. A task force of helicopters, aerial refueling tankers, ground attack aircraft and an airborne command post was required to successfully execute the missions. The 122nd provided the 163rd with support mirroring a full Air and Space Expeditionary Force package, complete with participation from over 12 units from the 122nd MXG.
“Participating in Green Flag West 17-09 allowed the 122nd Maintenance Group to exercise our warfighter capability and continue to develop our officers, enlisted, and civilian force to meet the national security challenges our nation faces today,” said 1st Lt. Cole E. Hoopingarner, 122nd Maintenance Operations Officer. “We are very proud of all the hard work and effort our Airmen displayed during this exercise period.”
The 163rd and 122nd FW has participated in several training scenarios and will take part in several more in preparation for their 2018 AEF deployment. Readiness, however, is always a focal point for the wing and it is constantly sharpening the tip of the spear with yearly inspections and exercises.
“The Blacksnakes are at the highest readiness level possible,” said Parker, “and remains prepared to take the lead in defending the United States and its citizens.”
All four services were represented during the exercise. Some of the players included the 552rd Air Control Wing, Tinker Air Base, Okla., 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Center 6th ANGLICO (Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company).