Air Commandos test wartime readiness

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Aaron Cram
  • 353rd Special Operations Group
More than 350 members and several aircraft assigned to the 353rd Special Operations Group spent nearly a month on the Korean peninsula testing and assessing their wartime readiness.

The Air Commandos deployed to Daegu Air Base, Republic of Korea, in early March for the group's annual operational readiness exercise and to participate in Foal Eagle 2009. Foal Eagle is an annual combined training exercise for U.S. and Republic of Korea forces to evaluate and improve their ability to coordinate procedures, plans and systems necessary to defend the ROK. The training affords unit members an opportunity to practice their wartime skills necessary for their ability to survive and operate in any environment.

"The 353rd is the focal point for all U.S. Air Force special operations activities throughout the U.S. Pacific Command theater," said Col. David Mullins, 353rd Special Operations Group commander. "Our mission as Air Commandos requires us to maintain the highest levels of readiness. This annual training is one of many opportunities we take advantage of each year to hone our skills to maintain our readiness and worldwide mobility commitment."

To maximize the training opportunity, SOG Airmen worked around-the-clock for nearly a month testing and evaluating the full spectrum of tasks the members of the group can be tapped to perform. The group's exercise simulated ground and air attacks, mass casualty events, operating in a chemical warfare environment, generating and maintaining aircraft, flying various special operations missions, and career-specific tasks that tested almost every combat support specialty within the unit.

Even with the variety of the scenarios and the duration of the exercise, the commander said the Airmen in the group met and exceeded his expectations for the challenges he and his exercise developers set forth.

"We deliberately overloaded the scenarios for this deployment to push this group to the limits," Col. Mullins said. "We're a unique unit with a unique mission and I wanted to see what we're made of. The men and women of the SOG gave their all throughout this deployment and proved without a shadow of a doubt they are ready to carry out our mission anytime, anywhere. I could not be more proud of these Air Commandos."