353rd SOG participates in Tempest Wind 2017

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jessica Tait, 353rd Special Operations Group Public Affairs
  • 353rd Special Operations Group

The 353rd Special Operations Group demonstrated operational readiness during Tempest Wind, a bilateral, interagency counterterrorism exercise from Sept. 18-26, 2017, in Okinawa, Japan and various locations throughout the Philippines. 

Tempest Wind is designed to support U.S. Pacific Command and the Republic of the Philippines’ objective of advancing regional security cooperation and improving crisis response actions.

“Tempest Wind is unique when compared with other exercises we participate in,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Brandon Thornton, 1st Special Operations Squadron commander. “We regularly exercise crisis response deployment, but don’t often get to employ assets and conduct operations in this type of environment. With Tempest Wind, we executed both deployment and employment on an accelerated timeline and did so outstandingly.”

The 353rd SOG worked with special operations forces (SOF) from the Philippines and the United States in order to improve the ability to rapidly plan, coordinate and conduct counterterrorism operations in an austere environment on extremely short notice.

From the logisticians and air planners working approvals, communication technicians ensuring network connectivity and maintenance personnel readying aircraft for sorties, the success of the exercise could not have been accomplished without these supporting agencies working behind the scenes.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the team involved in the exercise,” said Thornton. “We supported our global partners with SOF airlift, helicopter air-to-air refueling, advanced communications infrastructure, integrated intelligence assessments and command and control. Working long hours and often stepping out of their comfort zone to serve the greater mission, these men and women enabled SOF to accomplish exercise objectives flawlessly.”

Airmen worked closely with their Army counterparts, specifically the 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group and the 4th Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. The countless hours spent side-by-side helped to strengthen joint interoperability between the services and ensure future success on the battlefield.

“We don’t always have the opportunity to execute this type of scenario with all the U.S. and host nation players involved in this exercise,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Jason Kirby, 353rd SOG commander. “The lessons learned and the relationships we have developed directly contribute to security, stability, and prosperity across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”