HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. — Emerald Warrior ’09, a U.S. Special Operations Command multi-national tactical exercise here, wrapped up Feb. 13 after 12 days.
The exercise trained more than 700 joint and interagency special operators and conventional active duty and Reserve forces from Air Force Special Operations Command, Marine Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Air Combat Command, Air Mobility Command and the Department of State.
Emerald Warrior simulated the “fog of war” for joint personnel during night training exercises with live, virtual and constructive scenarios with simulated aircraft and munitions.
The training, focused on joint urban operations with 33 different training sites, providing core SOF and conventional readiness training including key areas of irregular warfare, i.e., counterinsurgency, direct action, and others said Mr. Ken Taylor, Emerald Warrior program manager.
While special operations forces fast-roped and jumped from helicopters, loaded patients onto aircraft “saving lives,” the “enemy” on the ground made their landings as realistic as possible by setting off IEDs, shooting simulated munitions and orchestrating enemy attacks.
Ground SOF teams called for medical evacuation and troop insertion by HH-60s and CV-22s with close-air support from A-10s, F-18s and AC-130s during rescue operations.
Additionally, ground teams practiced urban warfare skills by conducting building searches as they identified enemy forces.
“You can’t get this type of live, special operations training, working side-by-side with all the other services, anywhere else,” said Master Sgt. Mike West, a combat controller with the 720th Special Tactics Group. Sergeant West has been under enemy fire during multiple deployments attached to Army special forces teams in Afghanistan.
During the two-week exercise, joint forces flew approximately 230 live flights and similar missions were flown via a concurrent three-day simulation exercise.
Aircraft participating in Emerald Warrior included Air Force A-10s, B-52s, HH-60s, C-17s, KC-135s, Navy F-18s and AFSOC’s AC-130 H/Us, MC-130 H/P/Ws and CV-22s.
During the first week of the exercise, A-10, B-52, AC-130 desk tops, MC-130P and CV-22 simulators were used to train up personnel in realistic virtual scenarios,” said Col. Ron Wiegand, exercise director.
The simulators flew approximately 20 flights the first week.
“Realistic, high-tech virtual computer simulators interact with live portions of the exercise and command and control elements to assure scenarios feel real,” he said.
Throughout the exercise period, the local community heard loud noises emanating from the Eglin Range well after midnight.
“We need to train as we fight — at night,” Mr. Taylor said. “This is as real as it gets.”
Special operators normally conduct wartime missions under the cloak of darkness.
“Emerald Warrior scenarios challenged joint forces mentally and physically for the extreme demands they face in irregular warfare,” said Sergeant West.
Each participant, regardless of service, came to the exercise with a unique set of skills, said Colonel Wiegand.
“Emerald Warrior scenarios force joint personnel to interact, coordinate response, pro-actively engage and produce a joint reaction that, in the end, will save lives in irregular warfare,” he said.