By Staff Sgt. Tony Harp
| 193rd Special Operations Wing | Feb. 13, 2020
U.S. Airmen from the 148th Air Support Operations Squadron, Pennsylvania Air National Guard, perform a casualty evacuation drill during night-time training Jan. 11, 2020, in Annville, Pennsylvania. The 148th ASOS performed a round-robin style training event focusing on conducting various tactical drills at night while using their night vision capabilities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Harp) (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Harp)
A Tactical Air Control Party specialist from the 148th Air Operations Squadron, Pennsylvania Air National Guard, fires his weapon during night-time training, Jan. 11, 2020 in Annville, Pennsylvania. This training provided an opportunity for the TACPs to work on marksmanship techniques while using night-vision equipment. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Harp) (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Harp)
Tactical Air Control Party specialists from the 148th Air Operations Squadron, Pennsylvania Air National Guard, perform night-time training, Jan. 11, 2020 in Annville, Pennsylvania. The 148th ASOS performed the training to become more proficient with their individual equipment while operating tactically in the dark. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Harp) (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Harp)
Tactical Air Control Party specialists from the 148th Air Support Operations Squadron conducted night training Jan. 11, 2020, at Fort Indiantown Gap.
The night training acted as proficiency training to increase the Airmen’s familiarization with operating their equipment at night.
“Close air support happens at anytime during the day,” said Master Sgt. Brent Beckner, the operations training manager for the 148th ASOS. “You have to become very familiar with, not only all your night vision equipment, but your individual kit and knowing where everything is at, making sure it’s all tied off so you’re not losing things. Familiarity at night is huge, and not only that, you have to have great light discipline.”
The proficiency training fell in line with their annual training plan said Beckner.
“The desired learning objective was to get our guys familiar with their equipment at night,” said Beckner. “A lot of times we’ll do it out in the woods with different types of navigation, but for this one we decided to change it up, breaking it into three segments.”
The training was performed as a round-robin type event, where Airmen rotated between the three segments. One station consisted of close-quarters battle training which included: classroom instruction, glass-house drills and room clearing throughout their building.
A second station focused on small unit tactics where an Airman would transition through a shooting lane using their night vision devices and engaging targets with UTM training ammunition. They were timed as they moved through the course, engaging the targets and competing for the best time. Their final time was modified to account for their accuracy in engaging the targets.
The last station was a react-to-contact, convoy-type scenario with tactics, techniques and procedures they utilized from the Special Operations Forces they were deployed with, said Beckner. It also incorporated a little bit of tactical combat casualty care to where they had to extract bodies simulated by dummies and provide some sort of care to them while returning fire with the UTM training ammunition.
The training was an excellent way for the Airmen to focus on marksmanship fundamentals while operating in the dark. Beckner noted the basic concepts of marksmanship remain the same, however, there are some necessary adjustments that the operator must make to accurately engage their targets at night or in low-light conditions. Controlling your trigger pull and breathing should remain mostly unchanged he said.
“When trying to achieve a steady firing position, whether it be prone, standing, kneeling or whilst moving, the operator will need to manipulate the weapon in order to provide themselves the most effective firing platform,” said Beckner. “This is due in part to the profile created by wearing night vision devices and the placement of the weapon optic. This presents a tactical problem, in that the sight picture may be tough to acquire and proper alignment of your NVD and weapon optic/sight will prove crucial. When it comes to a stable firing platform and proper aiming, the optimal firing platform may not be the most comfortable, but it may prove to be the most accurate.”