Emerald Warrior 17 comes to a close

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- After two successful weeks of irregular warfare training, Emerald Warrior 2017 ended March 10.

Approximately 1,600 conventional and special operations forces (SOF) from the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Diplomatic Security Service Mobile Security Deployments participated in the 10th iteration of the exercise, along with partner nation forces from Denmark, the Netherlands and France.

Emerald Warrior is predominately a tactical exercise – both ground and air – with a sprinkle of command and control (C2), said Jerry Buckman, C2 planner for Emerald Warrior.

“The exercise exposes troops to how the process works before they deploy,” he said. “In fact, we have several participants in the combined Joint Special Operations Aviation Detachment (JSOAD), who are scheduled to deploy this spring.”

Throughout the exercise, participants logged more than 650 flight hours, 575 jumps, and fired more than 8,000 rounds of ammunition, said Lt. Col. Christian Helms, Emerald Warrior JSOAD commander.

“This year, we were able to bring in conventional aircraft that we haven’t been able to before,” Helms said. “We also had full participation from the MC-12s, which is an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft from the 137th Special Operations Wing, Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, Oklahoma.”

ISR integration was a major part of the exercise this year because it’s a crucial component to our current fight, said Lt. Col. Justin Lewis, Emerald Warrior mission commander for the 137th SOW.

“Participating in Emerald Warrior allowed us to display our capabilities to the ultimate user – Special Tactics Airmen on the ground,” Lewis said.

Helms said he is grateful for everyone who participated this year, especially the partner nations who traveled such a long distance.

“This exercise is one of the ways we sharpen our ax,” he said. “Once you leave for deployment, that’s it, you better be prepared. That’s why every minute of this exercise counts and every training moment matters.”