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sm190515-Z-ZZ999-6560A-10 Thunderbolts from the 124th Fighter Wing in Boise, Idaho release flares as part of a close air support mission May 15 at Hardwood Range, Wis. during Northern Lightning — a realistic counterland combat training exercise at Volk Field May 6-17. Wisconsin National Guard photo

VOLK FIELD, Wis. — Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center provided realistic counterland combat training during the first of two Northern Lightning training exercises, May 6-17.

The joint training exercise accommodated more than 50 aircraft and several hundred personnel from more than a dozen active duty Air Force, National Guard and Navy units. The specific exercise scenario focused on close air support in a contested environment, battlespace awareness and joint asset integration.

sm190515-Z-ZZ999-1248Ground forces direct live ordnance from aircraft onto targets at Fort McCoy, Wis., May 15 during Northern Lightning — a realistic counterland combat training exercise at Volk Field May 6-17. Wisconsin National Guard photo

“We know that wars are not fought by isolated military branches, and by training together we can make the sum of our efforts greater than any one part,” said Col. Bart Van Roo, exercise director. “Just like you wouldn’t throw a bunch of players together for a championship sports game, we don’t want our first time working together to be when stakes are even higher. The core reason we do military exercises is to test our communications, planning, decision-making and thinking. In short, we try to find ways to defeat ourselves so that we continually improve.”

sm190507-O-OLIVA-2830115th Fighter Wing members from Madison, Wis., load munitions onto an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Volk Field May 7 as part of Northern Lightning — a realistic counterland combat training exercise at Volk Field May 6-17. Participants dropped approximately 400 live and inert rounds as part of the two-week exercise. Joe Oliva photo/Jetpix.com, used by permission

During the exercise 350 sorties were flown, 400 bombs dropped and approximately 3,000 ground control tasks were executed at Volk Field, Hardwood Range and Fort McCoy. Throughout the exercise, simulated threats targeted aircraft and ground forces were hunted by personnel acting as enemy troops. These types of replicated aggression enhance the training.

sm190506-O-OLIVA-2658An F-16 Fighting Falcon loaded with munitions from the 115th Fighter Wing based in Madison, Wis., takes off for a mission at Volk Field, Wis., May 6 during Northern Lightning — a realistic counterland combat training exercise at Volk Field May 6-17. Various aircraft flew more than 350 sorties as part of the two-week exercise. Joe Oliva photo/Jetpix.com, used by permission

“This exercise continually exceeds most people’s expectations,” Van Roo said. “In large part this is because Volk Field provides a live training range that enables aircraft and ground crews to conduct missions as they would be executed, and because we tailor the exercise scenarios to meet the needs of participants. We’ve all had meetings where we’ve left thinking that it was a waste of time. Northern Lightning is specifically designed to avoid that notion.”

sm190515-Z-ZZ999-6272Ground forces direct live ordnance from aircraft onto targets at Fort McCoy, Wis., May 15 during Northern Lightning — a realistic counterland combat training exercise at Volk Field May 6-17. Wisconsin National Guard photo

Northern Lightning is a tactical level, joint training exercise replicating modern air battle space with current and future weapons platforms. A variety of aircraft — including the UH-60, F-16, EA-18, A-10, and KC-135 — participated in the exercise. The goal of the exercise is to provide tailored, cost effective and realistic combat training for participating units in a joint and multinational environment. The training environment replicates the environment in which combat aviators from each of the services would operate in wartime in an effort to build readiness to defend the nation.

sm190514-Z-ZZ999-4688Firefighters from Montana, Vermont and the Wisconsin Air National Guard train together to extinguish a simulated aircraft fire May 14 at Volk Field, Wis., during exercise Northern Lightning — a realistic counterland combat training exercise at Volk Field May 6-17. Wisconsin National Guard photo

The Wisconsin National Guard’s Volk Field CRTC is one of the premier training installations in the country due to its expansive airspace and the quality of the training the installation can simulate. For National Guard forces participating in the exercise, Northern Lightning provides an unmatched opportunity to experience first-class training to enhance its readiness for its federal mission as part of the primary combat reserve of the Air Force, but also for its respective state missions.

 


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