Dozens of Air Commandos from Hurlburt Field descended upon the Gulf Coast last month in a combat exercise designed to test the ability of America’s elite special ops units to operate “anytime, anyplace.”
In the January exercised dubbed Frigid Archer, airmen of the 1st Special Operations Wing and other Hurlburt Field units operated from austere conditions at the half-million acre Eglin Air Force Base reservation.
The exercise tested the airmen’s ability to function in an operational environment as part of Air Force Special Operations Command’s priority to “provide combat-ready forces” around the world.
Hurlburt’s special ops units performed operational and support requirements, which included flying, maintenance, base security, field communications, chemical warfare response and emergency medical response in the field.
Hurlburt conducts large, advanced tactical training exercises on a quarterly basis. These exercises are designed to test the operational capabilities of Air Commando units and identify areas for improvement.
“Over 300 personnel directly participated from the 1st Special Operations Wing and 24th Special Operations Wing, representing 22 squadrons from Hurlburt Field,” said Capt. Matthew Thies of the 1st Special Operations Air Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field.
“We employed three CV-22B Ospreys, an MC-130H Combat Talon II, a U-28A, and an AC-130U Spooky Gunship for the exercise to provide direct support to 23rd Special Tactics Squadron teams,” said Thies. ” The exercise demonstrated the ability for AFSOC to project power across all domains using joint tactics, techniques, and procedures.”
“Rehearsing combat operations from this bare-base would not have been possible without the 1st Special Operations Mission Support Group,” Thies continued.
The support unit was critical in providing all of the functions the remote unit would need in a deployed setting. Additionally, the unit rehearsed operations in- and outside the wire to prepare for future deployments.
This Frigid Archer exercise was unique in that it was the first Hurlburt exercise to also establish a bare-base under austere conditions without fixed infrastructure. Base officials say they hope to continue such exercises in the future to keep airmen ready for any wartime scenario.