58th Special Operations Wing Mission Command Exercise

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st. Class Ruben Garibay
  • 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The 58th Special Operations Wing located at Kirtland Air Force Base, conducted a Mission Command Exercise (MCE) and student training exercises with the U.S. Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, June 14-21, 2023. 

“We are here to train these students to ensure they are qualified and competent in the MC-130J aircraft,” said Maj. Mark Walker, 415th Special Operations Squadron mission commander. “Part of the mission is conducting syllabus events and showing them the ropes of working with joint forces which helps them get a feel of what it is like to be SOF [special operations] and on the road.” 

The team performed various exercises that included helicopter aerial refueling with the 160th SOAR, low-level flying routines in the rigid mountains of Washington, infiltration and exfiltration exercises with U.S. Army paratroopers, cargo delivery system air-drops, and safely securing and deploying air cargo.

“Normally, the students' training is conducted on the same base, in the same local areas which gives them a limited scope as to how to plan a mission,” exclaimed Walker. “The great thing about coming out here is the ability of introducing our students to different areas and  introducing them to a more dynamic environment while working with joint forces which inevitably is what they will be doing when they go operational.”

The students who took part in this exercise were not only student pilots, but loadmaster students as well, working together in the same aircraft exercising their book training in a real world environment.

“We have not seen anything like this before,” said 1st Lt. Angelina Robledo, 415th Special Operations Squadron student pilot. “The fact that it is so consistent with our training and we are actually working with the people who we will be working with operationally is amazing.”

Robledo shared that the most difficult thing about this deployment was training in a new environment. She also mentioned this was the first time herself and other students were using what they have learned from the Kirtland schoolhouse and Air Education and Training Command.

Maintainers from the 58th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron were deployed with the 415th SOS team as well. The 58th AMXS maintainers supported the 415th SOS MCE by taking their expertise from home base to a completely new environment, scene and work space.

“Our goal here as maintenance is to provide a fully functional aircraft to allow the aircrew and mission commander the capability to fulfill their mission goals,” said Staff Sgt. Jose Gomez, 58th AMXS avionics craftsman. “Having limited resources helps our maintainers become more proficient by utilizing the tools that are readily available to them compared to working with tools that are normally accessible at our home station.”

Overall, Team Kirtland utilized their training to successfully complete the mission at hand.

“The best part of this temporary deployment has been the people, the great amount of effort shown from our instructors and our maintenance team who has been incredible putting in a great amount of work and support,” Maj. Mark Walker shares.