ORANGE AIR NATIONAL STATION - Orange, Conn. -- Two operations modules sit inconspicuously on top of a hill beneath the shadow of a skyward facing radar unit. Huddled inside each module are air surveillance technicians, weapons directors and a mission commander taking part in a joint training exercise. The airmen inside are communicating with the 255th Air Control Squadron out of Gulfport, Miss., all while receiving their training simulation feed from the Air Force Distributed Training Operations Center in Iowa.
"These integrated training events with other units out of state are conducted two or three times annually," said Lt. Col. William Neri, the 103rd ACS squadron commander and mission commander for the training exercise.
This particular training exercise, held March 5 at the 103rd Air Control Squadron in Orange, Conn., was not only an opportunity for the Airmen to practice their wartime jobs, but it allowed requisite tasks to be completed. These tasks include providing radar control and monitoring of air weapons during offensive and defensive air operations as well as managing and operating aerospace control and warning systems, including functions involving electronic countermeasures and electronic counter-countermeasures, surveillance, data link management, identification and weapons control.
These types of training events are important because it provides a real world scenario for our Airmen to work through and we are able to complete recurring qualification evaluations for our Airmen which come due every 17 months, said Neri.
The fact that this training exercise was held jointly with an out-of-state unit provided the 103rd Air Control Squadron a training scenario which could not be accomplished within the unit.
"The purpose of the training exercise is to have joint operability with another unit in a distant location," said Master Sgt. Raheem Reggler, an air surveillance technician with the 103rd Air Control Squadron.
“We are training with the 255th Air Control Squadron out of Gulfport to see how our units communicate with each other in a joint environment. We do this type of training when state side because while deployed, we have to communicate with other commands and control agencies. This is because if we have tracks of interest while in theater, we need to make sure everyone is able to see what we are seeing. We have data links set up so other units can see our air picture, which ultimately gets forwarded all the way up to the Pentagon, “said Reggler.
“From an Airman's perspective, training with another unit gives us the ability to see how they do things versus how we do things,” said Senior Airman Joseph Pennell, air surveillance technician with the 103rd Air Control Squadron. “We are able to learn from these interactions and apply what we've learned in our next training scenario.”
"As air surveillance techs, our job responsibilities include detecting, identifying and tracking airborne interests in our assigned (areas of responsibilities). We use the radar with an ID matrix which helps us to identify tracks based on their points of origin and flight patterns, helping us to determine friend or foe in the air," said Pennell.” If any of our tracks of interest deviate, then we need to pass this information up as soon as possible. You have to be quick, efficient and flexible. Different scenarios are going to happen that you need to be ready for and this joint training helps prepare you,” said Pennell.
Ultimately, the joint training exercise keeps the geographically separated 103rd Air Control Squadron mission-ready.
"These exercises are robust and are excellent training for all units involved," said Neri. "Mission readiness is a critical component of our jobs and I'm here to make sure the ACS is prepared and primed for any future deployments."