Military News

Friday, March 06, 2015

Combat training prepares battlefield Airmen

by Senior Airmen Duane Morgan
174th Attack Wing

3/5/2015 - SYRACUSE, N.Y.  -- Members of the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base here completed eight days of close air support training Feb 16 at Barry M. Goldwater Range in Gila Bend, Arizona.

The Barry M. Goldwater Range is one of the largest live fire aircraft ranges in the United States.

"This training gave us the opportunity to train with live aircraft, live ordnance, and to get on an observation point and actually see bombs being delivered on target," said Tech. Sgt. David Cook, a Joint Terminal Attack Controller with the 274th. "The range environment itself was realistic to the type of terrain that we might encounter down range."

The training was a joint effort that involved JTACs from the United Kingdom with close air support provided by Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft from Luke AFB.

"Because training is practice for combat, we try to make training as realistic as possible for our Airmen," said Master Sgt. Joshua Deweese, chief JTAC instructor at the 274th. "This way if or when our Airmen deploy, there will be little to no surprises."

JTACs deploy with Army units and direct the action of combat aircraft operating in close air support and other offensive operations. The goal of the Barry M. Goldwater Range training was to not only challenge the JTACs; it was to complete skills evaluations and currency controls to sustain their readiness qualifications.

"With the winter weather, it sometimes affects our ability to get currency controls locally," said Cox. "The trip to Gila Bend was good because it gave us the opportunity to get as many of our JTACs current here in the squadron, as well as create new JTACs."

The 274th ASOS was initially designated a combat communications squadron shortly after WWII and stationed in Roslyn, on Long Island. The unit transitioned to an air support operations squadron and moved to its current location at Hancock Field in 2000. The move allowed the unit access to the Fort Drum Bombing Range, 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and 20th ASOS to enhance their training.

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