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Emerald Warrior 17: Planning starts for 10th exercise

  • Published
  • By Capt. Tori Hight
  • Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs
Nearly 100 military planners gathered here this week to develop training requirements for Emerald Warrior 2017, the largest irregular warfare exercise in the Department of Defense.

In its 10th iteration, Emerald Warrior faces a challenge no special operator can train for: a smaller budget.

"I was here for the very first Emerald Warrior and have observed events since then," said Col. Dwayne Lott, Air Force Special Operations Command deputy director of operations. "This exercise has become invaluable, no matter what component you serve with. The results validate the hours put into planning and operating the event, and the dollars needed to host this event annually."

This year’s budget to bring in participants is half of what was apportioned for last year. The EW staff is not fazed by this challenge and encouraged planners to press forward with preparing for the exercise.

The initial planning event involves representatives from EW staff, multiple Air Force units, sister services and partner nation personnel. With safety and fitting as much training as possible into the allotted budget in mind, the event focuses on units identifying necessary capabilities and skills to hone, and who they need to train with based on real world events.

“The focus of this exercise is air-centric special operations capabilities,” said Lt. Col. Eric Sullivan, EW program manager. “While our main focus is on AFSOC Airmen, all SOF [special operations forces] personnel use this exercise to perfect the skills they use downrange. It’s a whole lot easier to fly with a joint partner in combat when you’ve done it over friendly ground first.”

The exercise is scheduled to take place at the end of February and early March 2017. This shift from the usual late spring timeframe allows personnel to participate who would have otherwise been deployed.

“The purpose of EW is to stress Air Commandos before they deploy,” said David Patterson, chief of air operations for the exercise. “Our Airmen are always in one part of the cycle: either downrange, at home or training. We’re hopeful that different groups are able to participate this year and benefit from the experience.”

As the event warps up this week and personnel head back to their units, planning for the exercise will continue to ramp up.

“There’s a lot to be done,” said Patterson. “From logistics to communication and range control, all the effort pays off. We are looking forward to another successful exercise.”