Moody ‘war’ tests unit coordination
By 1st Lt. Dustin Hart, 347th Rescue Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 24, 2006
MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Air Force and Navy units joined Team Moody combat search and rescue assets Feb. 13 through 16 to participate in the Moody “war” here.
The 347th Operations Group developed the four-day, quarterly exercise to provide realistic combat scenarios focusing on a variety of search and rescue missions.
“(The Moody ‘war’) looks at integration,” said Maj. John LeClair, 347th Operations Support Squadron chief of weapons and tactics and chief planner for the exercise. “Initially we are getting all our (combat search and rescue) assets involved in a realistic wartime scenario, so we can practice our skills together. The focus is to get all our players together and have a fairly robust mission for them to prosecute.”
Unlike other Moody “wars,” however, this exercise included a wide range of involvement from other Team Moody, Air Force and Navy assets.
This included T-38 trainer jets from the 479th Flying Training Group, E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., and E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft from Robins AFB, Ga.
Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controllers from Fort Benning, Ga., and Navy SH-60F helicopters from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., also participated in the exercise.
“We are becoming more aggressive with these exercises and starting to involve more players,” Major LeClair said. “Any time you bring more people together, you learn more. By adding all the other assets, (the exercise) provided many more opportunities for learning, training and meeting objectives we wouldn’t have met otherwise.”
This exercise marked the first time the 479th FTG has participated in the Moody “war.” The T-38’s provided close air support and air-to-air missions, giving the exercise a more realistic feel.
“The Moody ‘war’ provided us a great opportunity to use the T-38 to practice our combat air force skills we learned while flying previous weapons systems like the A-10 and F-15,” said Maj. Marcus Gregory, 479th FTG Current Operations assistant director. “We also were able to aid the wing with realistic scenarios for rescue operations.”
The Joint STARS and AWACS aircraft also helped present a real-world wartime environment for the exercise. These two aircraft provided command and control assistance to the CSAR teams as well as training separately with the T-38s.
“The AWACS and (Joint STARS) worked together to help get the rescue aircraft in an dout (of the search area), with (Joint STARS) watching the ground and AWACS watching the sky,” said Lt. Col. Kyle Mullen, 964th Airborne Air Control Squadron assistant operations officer from Tinker AFB.
The realistic exercise scenarios not only tested the capabilities of the aircrews and rescue teams, it required complete coordination between each asset.
“The exercise gives us better ways to coordinate with each other,” said Staff Sgt. Adrian Durham, 38th Rescue Squadron pararescueman. “We all know how to do our individual jobs, this allows us to get out there and work with the different agencies.”’
A typical scenario included a rescue team, consisting of PJs and combat rescue officers, parachuting to the ground from an HC-130P/N to find and evacuate survivors.
Once on the ground, the team, facing an enemy threat, would coordinate with the JTACs to call in the T-38s to provide a close air support mission. Once the area was cleared, the rescue team prepared the survivors for extraction by an HH-60G Pave Hawk or SH-60 helicopter.
While all of this was going on, AWACS and Joint STARS aircraft provided command and control. Additional T-38s performed air-to-air combat missions providing an additional scenario consideration.
Each scenario represented challenges Moody’s CSAR assets could or have already faced in the deployed theater, Major LeClair said.
Specific scenarios included land recoveries on Moody’s Bemiss and Grand Bay ranges and Townsend Range in Savannah, Ga.
Another scenario required the crews to rescue numerous survivors in the Atlantic Ocean during a night water recovery off the coast of Jacksonville Beach, Fla.
Major LeClair said the combination of land and sea rescue scenarios provided Moody aircrews and their Naval counterparts the opportunity to crossflow information on different ways to conduct CSAR in different environments.
In addition to the scenarios, the exercise also featured another realistic touch: human survivors.
Approximately 15 volunteers from Team Moody and Robins AFB served as simulated survivors.
When exercising without survivors on the ground, the crews simulate the communication with the survivor, said Major LeClair.
“Without someone being on the ground with a radio talking to us, we can’t practice that portion of the rescue,” he said. “We need real survivors to see the realistic parts of human nature that can happen in a rescue situation.”
The major added the use of human survivors helped demonstrate the advantages of making the training as realistic as possible.
“Any time you can accomplish an exercise with real participants, it provides for a much better training experience than if you are simulating them,” he said.