PREPARING FOR DEPLOYMENT: The 335 FS wraps up deployment training with Grad week Exercise

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. David Moeller
  • 335th Fighter Squadron commander
The 335 Fighter Squadron "Chiefs" will be departing Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in less than a month to conduct combat operations in Afghanistan as part of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

During the past four months the Chiefs have been conducting detailed and demanding training to better prepare for the upcoming deployment. This has included participation in Exercise GREEN FLAG-WEST at Nellis AFB, NV and a weapons system evaluation program (WSEP) at Hill AFB, Utah, in which they employed more than 300 bombs and 20,000 rounds of ammunition in concert with joint forces from the Army and Marines. These temporary duties have allowed the Chiefs to work with the same soldiers they will work with in Afghanistan.

In addition to the TDY's the Chiefs have flown more than 1,000 missions from Seymour Johnson AFB, in which they have practiced Combat Air Support, Defensive Counter Air, Maritime Interdiction, and Air Interdiction in military operating areas over North Carolina and the Atlantic Ocean.

"The spin up program has been very demanding with the missions constantly changing, however, the results have been extraordinary and I feel very well prepared for the upcoming deployment," stated 1st. Lt. Clifford Moore, one of the youngest wingmen in the Chiefs. All of this training has culminated in a final local exercise in which the Chiefs and multiple joint forces were able to practice combat operations.

During this exercise the 335th worked with F-16s from Shaw AFB, S.C., and McEntire Air National Guard Base, S.C., F-18s from Naval Air Station Oceana, KC-135s from the 916th Air Refueling Wing, E-3 Airborne Warning and Cooling System (AWACS) from Tinker AFB, Okla., Army AH-64 and AH-1 helicopters from Ft. Bragg, N.C., as well as, Army and Navy special tactics forces from local bases. These assets provided the Chiefs a realistic training scenario to practice protection of ground troops while integrating with other air assets.

In addition to practicing close air support, the Chiefs also conducted practice searches for improvised explosive devices (IEDs). A 4th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team placed simulated IEDs southwest of the base for the aircrews to search for while directing ground convoys. Similar to Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, F-15E aircrew were often re-tasked from their current mission to another mission.

"The training we conducted was outstanding and could not have been accomplished without coordination with agencies throughout the 4FW," stated Lt. Col. David Moeller, 335th Fighter Squadron commander. "From the crew chiefs in the maintenance group to the EOD experts in the mission support group and the air traffic controllers in the operations group, we received outstanding training and are well prepared for AEF operations."