As a former special operations helicopter pilot with the USAF Special Operations Command, I can attest to the need for these types of exercises within the contiguous United States. Typically, a special operations mission requires long flight times and negotiation around different types of terrain and demographics within and around the target zone.
It seems that another exercise of this type is being planned for the Fall of this year and will impact seven US western states. These large groups of men, aircraft, and machinery from all the different services special operations units are critical to maintain the coordination between the different operators and the familiarization of working together. This is extremely important to mission success and to maintain the offensive capability of the United States for conducting these types of missions.
The Bin Laden rescue was a real life example of what these types of exercises plan for.
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This upcoming exercise called Jade Helm 15 will take place in TX, NM, AZ, CA, UT, CO, and NV. Usually, there is a simulated threat and precious cargo that needs to be neutralized and recovered. The units practice planning the mission with satellite and other tactical imagery.
The logistics can be daunting as you could be dealing with hundreds of aircraft all operating in close proximity with each other at night in adverse conditions. This is very dangerous. The flights can be very long distances with multiple air refuelings, and the aircrews and ground operators are truly the best-of-the-best of America’s military.
One instance I was involved with was in the early 90s on the Great Salt Lake in Utah, where about a dozen operators were killed as their helicopter crashed in the lake at night in bad weather. Frequently, aircraft go down with very skilled and amazingly professional people on board. However, among the operators, this is considered the cost of doing business.
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If you are a freedom-loving American and are in one of these states this fall, please support these exercises by not complaining about aircraft noise or firing on live fire ranges. It’s just the sound of freedom.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website.
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