| Air Force to hold air war exercise in S. Korea |
By Franklin Fisher, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Monday, January 12, 2009
Christopher Boitz / USAF
At Osan Air Base in South Korea last July, an F-16 fighter of Osan’s 36th Fighter Squadron lands after flying a mock combat mission during a training exercise. This week the U.S. Air Force throughout South Korea is holding an exercise to test its readiness to fight an air war. OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — U.S. airmen across South Korea will take part this week in a training exercise that tests their readiness to fight an air war.
U.S. 7th Air Force (Air Forces Korea) will oversee the quarterly operational readiness exercise, which will involve more than 8,500 U.S. troops, most of them airmen, including those at Osan and Kunsan air bases.
Army Patriot missile soldiers also will take part.
The exercise will test — through various mock war drills — the ability of the U.S. Air Force in South Korea to do the things it would have to do in wartime — mainly to knock out enemy aircraft, attack enemy troops and other ground targets.
“Our primary goal obviously is to make sure we’re ‘Ready to fight tonight’ and win against possible North Korean attack,” said 1st Lt. Malinda C. Singleton, spokeswoman for Osan’s 51st Fighter Wing.
The exercise will test senior commanders in their ability to manage the overall air campaign.
Airmen will have to perform under simulated wartime conditions, often in cumbersome chemical protective gear.
“Learning how to operate and survive in a chemical environment, that is a major part to every exercise we do here,” said 1st Lt. David R. Herndon, spokesman for Kunsan’s 8th Fighter Wing.
Pilots will fly mock combat missions over the peninsula. Ground crews will launch and recover the jets. Other airmen, including Security Forces troops, will practice defending their bases.
Airmen will practice giving first aid to themselves or other wounded airmen. Base medical facilities will operate as if at war.
The soldiers of the Army’s 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade will simulate launching their missiles against incoming enemy missiles or planes.
The brigade is headquartered at Osan and maintains firing batteries at various installations on the peninsula.
This week’s exercise will also serve as a rehearsal for a crucial Pacific Air Forces operational readiness inspection, or ORI, that the U.S. Air Force in South Korea is slated to undergo in the spring.
ORIs test war readiness, and all U.S. Air Force bases worldwide undergo ORIs once every two years, Singleton said.