Wolf Pack runs drill at wartime pace in South Korea
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Kunsan Air Base wrapped up an extra-tough mock war exercise Friday, one that tested its ability to fight an air battle despite a chemical attack.
The exercise began Feb. 22 and saw airmen of Kunsan’s 8th Fighter Wing doing their jobs as they’d have to in wartime. The wing, known as the Wolf Pack, has 2,600 airmen at the base, on South Korea’s western seacoast.
"For this exercise, it was intended to be a little tougher on our airmen," said wing spokesman 1st Lt. David Herndon.
A key part of the simulated war scenario were mock attacks by tactical ballistic missiles, some carrying chemical warheads, Herndon said.
"It was probably double the normal amount that we receive here at Kunsan" during other mock war exercises, he said.
The intent was to measure the Wolf Pack members’ ability to do their jobs wearing cumbersome chemical protective suits, known as MOPP gear, and otherwise work under combat conditions.
"They were MOPPed up the whole time, it seemed like," Herndon said.
Ground crews had to launch and recover fighter jets, and base security forces practiced fending off ground attacks, all wearing the chemical gear. And suited-up medical personnel practiced treating mock battle casualties, such as fractures, burns, gunshot wounds and sprained ankles.
Pilots took to the skies and practiced various fighter combat missions — mostly mock dogfights and attacks on enemy troops and other ground targets, Herndon said.
The exercise coincided with the arrival at Kunsan of U.S. Marines who are staging there for March’s big annual training exercise, called Key Resolve/Foal Eagle, on the peninsula, Herndon said. The Marines are from the 1st Marine Air Wing on Okinawa.
Welcoming those Marines mimicked part of the wing’s wartime mission, which is to be a receiving point for troops being flown into the peninsula.
The Wolf Pack would have to in-process, feed and shelter those troops.
"So," Herndon said, "it was an added bonus for the wing because we had to in-process these Marines to the base."