Altus Airmen, National Guard participate in joint exercise

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman J. Zuriel Lee
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Airmen from Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, participated in Operation Viking, a joint force exercise, on March 28.

Operation Viking allowed Airmen from Altus and Little Rock AFB, Arkansas, and Soldiers from the Texas Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion (Airborne), 143rd Infantry Regiment, to conduct air landings to test their ability to rapidly deploy from Air Force aircraft and move into a full airfield seizure.

Army Lt. Col. Max Krupp, the battalion commander, said, "We are the only airborne battalion within the Army National Guard force structure and part of our mission is to conduct airfield seizures. This operation is a joint operation and there are lessons learned to help make it a better enterprise for future iterations."

The Soldiers worked with the Air Force C-17 Globemaster III loadmasters to load Humvees at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The Soldiers then boarded another C-17 and two Air Force C-130 Hercules.

After loading the aircraft with the vehicles and Soldiers, they were then transported to the airfield. The training included loading and unloading aircraft, security procedures, clearing buildings and simulated mortar attacks.

"Exercises like this help us get used to training in each other's environments," said Army Sgt. Ron Kapaun, a human resources NCO with the 143rd IR. "The closer we work together, the better we work as a team. We are training for something real. We fight like we train and we train like we fight."

The exercise gave the Soldiers a good understanding of the impact of joint operations on the mission's success.

"We have to have each other's backs," said Army Spc. Joseph McKaughan, an infantryman assigned to the 143rd IR. "The Air Force helps us get to our locations so we can execute the mission."

The loadmasters are required to perform airdrops and air landings annually. This requires them to work with the Army to keep this qualification.

"We are preparing for real-world operations," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chad Owens, a loadmaster assigned to the 58th Airlift Squadron. "The best part of the training is working with the Army guys, showing them what we do. This helps us be better prepared for joint operations in the future."

Training like this helps the Army and Air Force understand each other's capabilities and as a result, are better prepared for real-world scenarios.

"My unit is joint-force dependent. We cannot conduct our mission without the help from U.S. Air Force aircraft," Krupp said. "The resourcing and planning is where the real coordination and learning takes place and the real interoperability of joint training unveils itself. Our ability to do that with our partners from Altus and Little Rock was a huge benefit for all parties."