ASOS trains in Sawtooths for potential deployments
By Tech. Sgt. Becky Vanshur, 124th Fighter Wigh Public Affairs
/ Published July 20, 2012
June 28, 2012 -- Near Fairfield, Idaho - Members of the 124th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS) of the Idaho Air National Guard undertook intense, rugged outdoor training during exercise "Mountain Fury II" in Idaho's Sawtooth National Forest, June 19 through June 27 to prepare for potential future deployments.
Idaho has ideal training environments that simulate those found in Afghanistan, with wide open desert and plant-filled mountainous terrain, as well as ample air space for military aircraft. Thanks to careful planning with the U.S. Forest Service and the Federal Aviation Administration, the 124th ASOS was able to save taxpayer dollars by training close to home.
Most of the training took place in areas of Idaho that closely mirrored terrain personnel would expect to see in Afghanistan. Additionally, the airmen used military air assets to train to their fullest potential. Several units took part in the exercise, to include the Idaho Air National Guard's 190th Fighter Squadron, flying the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the Idaho Army National Guard's 1-183rd Aviation Reconnaissance Battalion with their Apache Longbow Helicopters, the 728th Air Control Squadron from Mt. Home AFB, and Bravo Company, 1-214th General Support Aviation Battalion flying their CH-47 Chinook Helicopters from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. The joint exercise provided each of those agencies with invaluable wartime training.
"Boise and the surrounding areas are perfect training for Afghanistan terrain," said 2nd Lt. Randall Schmidt, Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) and Air Liaison Officer who was also the Officer in Charge of this year's annual training. "We've got the mountains here with nice high elevation and low flats. In 30 minutes you can be high on the mountain tops or down in desert - the best of both worlds."
On the hillside during daylight and darkness, Radio Operation Maintainer and Drivers and JTACs observe a simulated enemy in a valley below. They carefully watch the activity through night vision goggles and laser range finders to gather intelligence. They then pass this information to the A-10s and AH-64s hovering overhead for close air support strikes.
"The training we've been conducting with the Air Guard in Idaho has been incredibly valuable to us," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bryan Campbell, a CH-47 pilot. In addition to helping the 124th ASOS and other members involved, our aircrews get to maintain combat proficiency. It provides us with a unique opportunity see how the Air Guard trains and prepares for future deployments and joint operations."