War Day integrates Alaska air operations

  • Published
  • By Air Force Lt. Col. Brian Laidlaw
  • 3rd Operations Support Squadron commander
As the summer draws to a close, the 3rd Operations Support Squadron is wrapping up airfield construction projects, compiling end-of-year training and flying hour data, and preparing for exciting upcoming events.

Friday, Sept. 20, the 3rd Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson will execute War Day, a large-force exercise integrating units based across Alaska. The exercise is designed to provide realistic training between the units from JBER and Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. War Day will include F-22 Raptors, C-17 Globemaster IIIs, HC-130 Kings, HH-60 Pave Hawks, E-3 Sentries and F-16 Fighting Falcon Aggressors from Eielson, acting as opposing forces.

War Day began as wing leadership's vision of a regularly-executed training exercise incorporating as many 3rd Wing and other Alaska assets as possible. JBER's widely-varied aircraft and capabilities present a unique opportunity to train together, increase understanding and interoperability between assets, develop tactics, enhance combat performance, and promote integration, esprit-de-corps and professionalism.

War Day will start with a scenario developed by members of the 3rd OSS's Intelligence Flight and Weapons and Tactics Flight. These scenarios change with each War Day - executed about every other month - and are developed to simulate tactics, which would potentially be implemented in current or future real-world events. Scenarios can include fighter air-to-air engagements; escort of ground-strike aircraft; air refueling; airdrops and troop jumps from C-17 or C-130 Hercules aircraft, or personnel rescue and recovery with helicopters. With the help of the F-16s from Eielson and a large dedicated airspace, the training opportunities are some of the best the Air Force has to offer.

It is the responsibility of the individual squadron aircrew to plan and execute the mission 3rd OSS Weapons and Tactics has set forth. That involves airspace allocation, route planning and use of intelligence. Once War Day starts and assets are in place, the scenario begins and aircrews execute the plan. After the exercise, all of the units meet together to debrief. Crews will discuss, in great detail, well-executed tactics as well as any tactical errors made to compile lessons learned. These lessons will then be used to hone the techniques and combat tactics for future War Days and potential contingencies.

In addition to War Day, the 3rd OSS Weapons and Tactics personnel are responsible for turkey shoot competitions and wing verifications. Turkey shoots present an opportunity for flying units to team up with their fellow Intelligence and Command and Control Airmen to compete and demonstrate their tactical expertise. Similar to War Day, wing verifications are intended to verify the combat readiness of each unit of the 3rd Wing. Unit representatives brief wing leadership on the capabilities and tactical role of their platform in the fight. Through War Day, turkey shoots and wing verifications, the 3rd Wing leadership has proof of what exactly the aircraft and personnel in the wing and Alaska can bring to combatant commanders.

As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, the 3rd OSS will continue its mission to enable top cover, worldwide airlift and combat power projection through a dedicated team of professional Airmen.