FORT SILL, Okla., Nov. 6, 2017 — The Redleg War has taken on a joint nature for the first time in a decade. Not only were Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC) students coordinating field artillery downrange, but they accomplished more training tasks Oct. 16-20, and were able to support the Air Force in its tasks as well.
Simply shifting the location for recurring training, 1st Battalion, 30th Field Artillery; 457th Fighter Squadron, Air Force Reserve; and 138th Combat Training Flight, Oklahoma Air National Guard, traded simulator training for real-world experience.
“It took me personally a couple years just to meet the right people to realize that on Fort Sill pretty much every day of the week we have artillery shooting. And at Falcon Range, which is a close air support range to the west of Cache, pretty much every day there are Air Force jets flying close air support,” said Lt. Col. Nick Sargent, Army Targeting Center Joint Integration chief. “The challenge was to try and synchronize that training in time and space, which is what we managed to achieve this week.”
Sargent worked with Lt. Col. James Egan, 1-30th FA commander, and Lt. Col. Michael Barron, 457th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations, on the concept of the joint exercise. Sargent and Barron then coordinated with the joint terminal attack controllers out of Oklahoma City. The result was that second lieutenant field artillery students received joint fires observer training with close air support sorties flown by Air Force forward air control airborne pilots, then the pilots sent live call for fire missions to the Soldiers, and the Air National Guard received live joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) training.
“It was a no-brainer. We already had our training scheduled on Falcon [Range] at this time and we knew we were going to be down here for the week,” said Maj. Matthew Emerson, 138th CTF commander. “Honestly it’s just good exposure for our guys. They’ve never been able to go down to the gunline and see what it’s like, or in the [fire direction center] and get to talk to the instructors at the Fires Center — they’re learning a lot.”
Sargent said as they planned the exercise, they identified where the common training objectives were, and then superimposed that training.
“The outcome is great joint training,” said Sargent.
“The feedback was tremendous. I think every single pilot had great lessons learned,” said Barron.
Barron went on to say when training is stovepiped it does create more specialized skills, but bringing it together in a realistic environment is where the Airmen and Soldiers worked through challenges. That was experienced at Redleg War as both forces were tested by the ability to communicate with each other.
“Being able to make sure we communicate effectively with the ground commander through the JTAC to the pilots, no doubt that’s something we have to do and we execute currently in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said.
The exercise also gave Soldiers confidence in using close air support to be more effective on the battlefield.
“We seek to mass and maximize the effects of artillery fires and close artillery support fires, so synchronization is the way we achieve that,” said Sargent.
He added the goal is to get this joint training standardized into the program of instruction for BOLC.
Sargent said other ways to grow the exercise would be to have more air support and live ordnance with help from Range Operations, which has offered to look outside the areas that are currently allocated for close air support.
“I think the right people are in the right places to allow this to continue and to grow,” said Barron. “I think at the warfighter level to see that in an exercise for a week is very helpful. This is really effective for all players.”