7th ASOS hosts combined joint airstrike training

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Bobby Teichmann
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Airmen, Soldiers and Belgian army soldiers participated in joint-training exercise Operation Sandlot in the Fort Bliss range in New Mexico, March 13-15, 2024.

Tactical air control party specialists coordinated air-to-ground strikes with F-16 Vipers and MQ-9 Reapers from Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico and AH-64 Apaches from Fort Bliss.

“It’s a good chance for us to come together and share tactics, techniques, and procedures so that we are ready to deploy,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Justin Brownridge, 7th Air Support Operations Squadron assistant director of operations.

NATO allies come to the United States to learn from Air Force and Army assets and techniques, then disseminate that knowledge when they return to their home bases.

“It’s good to see different ways of doing it,” said Belgian army Capt. Tom Kennes, joint terminal attack control training facilitator. “If we go downrange with them, we’ll already have a baseline on how they work.”

Training with the MQ-9 is of particular importance to the Belgians because they will receive their own later in 2024.

“It’s a good opportunity across NATO for them to come use our assets,” Brownridge said.

Cooperative exercises are nothing new to Holloman, as the F-16s and MQ-9s based there are often used in training exercises with Fort Bliss. In 2022, the MQ-9s participated in the biennial Rim of the Pacific, a maritime exercise that included participants from 28 nations.

Developing people, generating readiness, projecting power and developing integrated capabilities are at the core of the Department of the Air Force’s mission to reoptimize for great power competition.