AFSOC leads Joint Lightning 2019 field training exercise at MacDill

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Shannon Bowman

Establishing and supporting communications systems in forward operating locations is an important mission for Air Force Special Operations Command.

To ensure mission readiness and the capabilities of its Special Operations Communications Squadrons, AFSOC hosted the two-week Total Force Joint Lightning 2019 field training exercise, July 15, 2019, at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

More than 200 active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Airmen from the 1st, 27th, 193rd, 280th and 919th SOCS, along with elements of the 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron, participated in the exercise, conducting integrated systems training.  

According to Senior Master Sgt. David Chase, 280th SOCS planning cell superintendent, the Airmen and NCOs are training to fulfill the AFSOC mission.

“The whole reason for the exercise is to get war fighters ready for going down range,” said Chase.

Chase added that 50 tons of equipment was brought to MacDill to create a real-world experience for the exercise.

“We are training Airmen to setup and maintain every piece of communications equipment we have including internet, voice and radio capabilities,” said Chase. “We want to demonstrate that we can sustain a forward operation for as long as needed.”

Like Chase, supervisors within other participating units, agreed that performing Total Force exercises is imperative to carrying out AFSOC’s mission.

“It is important to integrate tactical communications training,” said Staff Sgt. Sebastian Suarez, AFSOC A6, NCO in charge of future operations.  “We can monitor and evaluate each other to be certain that we can provide the personnel and equipment needed to support our forward operations.”

For SOCS Airmen, it’s crucial to train like they fight and Total Force training is often implemented to keep them prepared.

“Not only do these exercises allow us to familiarize ourselves with our equipment, but we also become more familiar with personnel from other units who we will eventually deploy with.” said Capt. Bryant Williams, 280th SOCS J6 site commander. 

According to Chase, the high levels of interoperability, relationships, and shared training techniques have already made the operation a success. “We are fortunate to conduct this exercise at MacDill, and our teams have all worked really well together.”