WRANGB Airmen participate in first Air National Guard distance simulation demonstration
By Senior Airman Kasey Phipps, 137th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 04, 2015
WILL ROGERS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Okla. -- Airmen from the 146th Air Support Operations Squadron took part in the world's largest modeling, simulation and training conference, which was hosted more than 1,000 miles away, from inside their squadron building here, Dec. 1-3, 2015.
The 146th Airmen, along with current and retired service members from Iowa and Florida, remotely demonstrated the use of the Air National Guard Advanced Joint Tactical Air Control Training Simulator for the first time as part of the Distributed Training Operations Center's participation in the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference in Orlando, Florida.
"This is the first time that an Air National Guard unit has shown the ability to do distributive training," said Master Sgt. Chris Johnson, the contracted operator and maintainer for the simulator.
The squadron's participation with the DTOC is just the beginning of a national trend, said Johnson. Joint Tactical Air Control units around the nation are getting these simulators and will have the opportunity to connect with other simulators for collaborative and interactive training.
The simulator and DTOC allow members - from different locations, military branches and subject matters from around the world - to coordinate operations in a single simulated location while never leaving their respective bases and at the fraction of the cost of organizing a national exercise.
"It gives local units the ability to bring outside players in to create a more robust and realistic training," said Johnson, who, without the DTOC, is tasked with creating scenarios and acting as the remote parties that interact with Joint Tactical Air Controllers. "You're bringing in a greater depth of knowledge and people's real life experiences versus just one guy."
For Airmen, the demonstration of the simulator provided a look into the real-life cooperation and organization behind operations abroad.
"It's really important to do this because we get different perspectives," said one of two Tactical Air Control Party students who participated over the three days. "We're actually talking to a pilot who's flying a simulated A-10 (Thunderbolt). We're actually doing our job controlling and being an air liaison to the Army. Everyone's doing their part."
As JTACs, the Airmen are responsible for calling in fire and artillery, battle tracking to orient commanders to progressing situations, and coordinating air crews and ground teams to carry out operations. During the demonstration, the students communicated with A-10 pilots in Iowa and a ground commander in Florida, among others.
Though the simulator is different from real battle, it helps to overcome space and time restrictions that could otherwise limit the experience Airmen take with them overseas.
"It's putting you in the best place you can be, without actually being there," said the other participating TACP student.