3rd ASOS prepares Airmen beyond tactical edge with arctic training exercise

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ricardo Sandoval
  • 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Airmen assigned to the 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron participated in a training exercise at Delta Junction, Alaska, March 20-24, 2023. 

The training exercise tested the Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) and Special Warfare Mission Support (SWMS) Airmen on their ability to conduct operations in arctic conditions.

“TACP is historically known for supporting the Army as a ground unit serving as the link between air and ground operations,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Connor Filleau, 3 ASOS precision strike operator. “We’re setting up a new team that can go forward before the Army has arrived in the Area of Operation to find and locate targets and possibly strike those targets with aircraft.” 

This training exercise also allowed the Airmen to test the new sensors and effects team (SET) concept for TACP.

“As a sensors and effects team, our main mission is to go out forward past the Tactical Operations Center and provide surveillance and reconnaissance information,” said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Shipman, 3 ASOS sensors and effects team noncommissioned officer in charge. “We also provide targeting data and target control to be able to strike those targets if the target engagement authority deems fit.”

The SETs established Command and Control communications and received mission taskings prior to starting their ground infill away from the base camp. SETs conducted foot and vehicle movements including snowshoes, cross country skis, and snow machines to set up camps.

“The intent of this exercise is to identify some shortcomings of equipment to help us develop new tactics, techniques and procedures and request new equipment to innovate and develop our career field for the future fight,” explained Capt. Edwardo Ramirez, 3 ASOS flight commander. “Our four-man teams are pushing out roughly 10-15 miles from our base camp and we’re looking for them to sustain 72 hours of self-sustaining support to include power, food, and water.”

Despite having the necessary equipment SETs experienced obstacles common within an Arctic environment.

“Some of the obstacles we’ve been having to overcome are typical problems you’d run into while operating in an Arctic environment. The cold weather increases chances of cold weather injuries, as well as degrades our batteries and communications capabilities,” said Shipman. “Also, we have to maintain proper hydration and caloric intake especially for an austere environment such as this.”

Although the environment presents such challenges, it also provides realistic conditions to test equipment and operations in order to stay proficient in the field.

“It feels great to get out here and train,” added Filleau. “To simulate a new mission set with my coworkers is a great opportunity.”