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Jaded Thunder: Exercise helps sharpen combat readiness

The 442d Fighter Wing is currently participating in a joint Air Force, NATO, Navy and Marine Corps exercise called Jaded Thunder. The purpose of the exercise is to give U.S. and allied aircrews the opportunity to simulate tracking enemy targets in complex environments.

The 442d Fighter Wing is currently participating in a joint Air Force, NATO, Navy and Marine Corps exercise called Jaded Thunder. The purpose of the exercise is to give U.S. and allied aircrews the opportunity to simulate tracking enemy targets in complex environments. (U.S. Air Force photo)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- The 442nd Fighter Wing here recently participated in a special-operations forces training exercise called "Jaded Thunder" in Florida. This exercise helped ensure the wing and its personnel are ready to both deploy and execute wartime tasks across a wide range of functional areas.

Exercises validate training and readiness, ultimately ensuring personnel and units are prepared to execute real-world missions. Training and exercises are a fundamental part of military life. Our wing's mission is to operate at the highest level of combat readiness, and in-turn successful mission execution is reliant on well-trained Airmen motivated to achieve excellence.

During this combined arms exercise, approximately 200 Airmen from across the wing were tested on wartime task performance within their specific functional areas. We trained alongside Marine, Army, NATO and fellow Air Force participants. Multiple aircraft platforms, artillery and ground personnel were engaged in this live-fire exercise with the intent of honing the combat skills of everyone who was involved.

Successfully completing tasks while appropriately reacting to exercise scenario injects validate an Airman's mastery of skills necessary to execute real world missions in a deployed environment. With an air expeditionary force rotation on the horizon for our wing, this exercise gave many of our Airmen the chance to train like they fight.

However, this exercise only validated and trained a small portion of the entire wing. Every Airman should be able to perform to the same standard as their counterparts who participated in Jaded Thunder. Units should have training programs in-place to ensure all personnel are prepared, trained and ready. Functional area training is an everyday occurrence, but training on basic war-fighting skills and how those two training areas interact can sometimes be neglected. It is imperative that units develop a comprehensive training plan validated through practice and exercise - maximizing training time during unit training assemblies. Additional training events should be considered as needed to improve familiarity and confidence in task and mission accomplishment.

This critical aspect of our responsibility is often difficult in today's fiscal environment. Those challenges present many road-blocks that can detract from our mission. I ask everyone to focus on the soldiers on the ground and our supreme responsibility to support them with the most professional and effective air power available in the world. They are America's most cherished asset and we owe them nothing short of perfection.

Self-assurance and trust in your comrades is crucial to effective team development and is a key component in any successful unit. Members of successful teams push each other to continually improve. Motivation to achieve excellence is what has propelled the U.S. Air Force to become recognizably the best Air Force in the world.

This is what makes exercises like Jaded Thunder so important. Wartime deployment preparation and constant mission readiness ensure our Airmen are prepared to "Fly, Fight and Win," in air, space and cyberspace.

I'm personally proud of the pilots, maintainers and additional support personnel who trained in Florida in October. It is the willingness of our reservists to train like we fight that will make the upcoming AEF a resounding success.