Diesel Weasel Exercise Trains Misawa Pilots on Close Air Support
Pilots from the 14th Fighter Squadron are training on close air support April 30 through May 17 at Misawa Air Base and Draughon Range, Japan, in support of the Diesel Weasel Exercise.
The Diesel Weasel Exercise prepares pilots to conduct CAS before participating in a Green Flag Exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, said Capt. Colin Marshall, 14th Fighter Squadron, Assistant Weapons Flight commander.
Essential to the training are the Tactical Air Control Party personnel who are temporary duty to Misawa for the exercise, said Marshall. The TACPs are assigned to the 712th and 11th Air Support Operations Squadron at Ft Hood, Texas. TACPs normally run on the ground with Army and Air Force personnel to control and direct air strikes against enemy troops attacking US forces.
"Working with them now gives us the training and experience we need to hit the ground running when we deploy," said Marshall. "The pilots are benefitting by talking to personnel on the ground and practicing the tactics we'll use when we deploy."
One training exercise simulated an armed overwatch mission. On those missions, pilots are tasked to follow vehicle convoys and search for threats like improvised explosive devices, ambushes and roadblocks. The TACPs simulated attacks, and directed pilots to drop weapons on the simulated enemy locations.
"They did an awesome job," said 1st Lt. Matt Kimmel, 14th Fighter Squadron pilot. "It's really valuable to what we're trying to do in our training."
A big part of CAS is being able to employ weapons accurately, safely and in a short period of time to support the troops on the ground, said Marshall. Using techniques such as strafing and dropping weapons in training, pilots are able to practice the maneuvers and tactics we will be using in combat.
Overall, the Diesel Weasel exercise has been a great experience for the pilots, the pilot added. They received valuable training and gained tactical experience necessary to react quickly while deployed.
"The TACPs provide capabilities that we can't simulate and it has been great to have them out here," Marshall said.
Source: 11 May 2012 - dailyairforce News
Photo: The U.S. Air Force F-16 and Diesel Weasel Exercise trains Misawa pilots on Close Air Support (Photo by misawa.af.mil)