U.S. airmen at Kunsan get the drills
Officials at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea say a recent mock war exercise was so beneficial they’ll probably make its drills part of their regular training schedule.
The Oct. 6-8 8th Fighter Wing exercise saw airmen coping with repeated air attacks and pilots diving on realistic ground targets. “The biggest benefit … was we really did numerous coordinated attacks on the base, and had to work through those scenarios and still turn airplanes and fly missions and do everything else,” said Maj. James Sprouse, 8th Fighter Wing inspector general.
Officials are mulling a repeat as early as January, said Capt. Krista Carlos, the wing’s public affairs chief. The wing is known as the “Wolf Pack.” These drills would be for the wing only, and would be in addition to South Korea-wide exercises the wing joins each year.
“The leadership focus here at the Wolf Pack is to make sure we are trained and ready all the time,” Carlos said. “So our wing commander doesn’t want to go too many months without having one of these, so we are always … very well prepared for anything that might come our way.”
Wing officials now are preparing a formal report detailing strengths and weaknesses evaluators saw.
Producing a final report generally takes two weeks, Sprouse said. The findings will go to the wing’s unit commanders and to Pacific Air Forces headquarters at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.
The latest exercise differed from previous ones in several ways, Sprouse said. It called for numerous air and ground attacks on the base, putting airmen through the pressure of having to keep the base operating under those conditions.
“We had conventional aircraft attacks, chemical attacks, SCUD attacks — including chemical and conventional,” Sprouse said. Among other hostile actions Wolf Pack airmen faced: terrorist bomb threats, electronic infiltration of Internet systems, attacks by special operations troops and efforts of infiltrators to sneak onto base.
Aircraft ground crews had an especially tough go, Sprouse said: They had to launch, recover and maintain aircraft while wearing cumbersome chemical protective gear — “which of course made it a lot more difficult,” he said.
Base Security Forces also were busy, partly countering special ops and terrorist attacks, “so they got some really valuable training,” Sprouse said.
“These things,” Carlos said, “are very beneficial and the overall evaluation is very beneficial. It shows us what we need to do and what we have been doing very well. … It shows us all aspects of the mission here from the flying, the maintaining. … It’s a good gauge to show you how successful you’ve been.”