I came across this 165th Airlift Wing article and thought my readers might be interested in it. There is some good information on how the exercise went and how it was supported by the Savannah CRTC:
By Master Sgt. Bucky Burnfed
SAVANNAH, Ga. – From its inception in 1733, as General James Edward Oglethorpe stepped from the ‘Anne’ onto the bluff that is now the city’s busy waterfront, he recognized the importance of Savannah to England’s military strategy in keeping the Spanish in Florida. Savannah’s strategic importance continues as the nation’s frontline fighter aircraft community rallied at the Combat Readiness Training Center to fight mock air-battles over the Atlantic Basin. Savannah’s proximity to the near limitless overwater airspace is an enticing tactical element for fighter pilots, especially those with supersonic capabilities due to inherent constraints over populated areas. All-the-more enticing are the air-warriors indigenous to the low country of Georgia, South Carolina and Florida which include Beaufort MCAS F-18’s, Jacksonville’s FANG F-15’s and McEntire’s SCANG F-16’s. So the air-battle commenced early February 3rd with Vermont’s Green Mountain Boys lifting their F-16’s along with F-22’s from Tyndall AFB to join the fray over the ocean. Days later the DC’s F-16’s and Hawaii’s F-22’s were immersed in the synchronized air dance as dissimilar air-warriors bobbed and weaved high above Atlantic gulfstream.
Conducting an air-battle exercise of this scope at Savannah’s CRTC is difficult to fathom considering the specialized unit lost 26 or its 81 members with 450 years of combined experience less than six months ago to the first round of mandated budget cuts. Realizing this, the only way to embrace such an exercise was develop the ‘Team Savannah’ approach, a concept readily embraced throughout local command. Georgia’s Adjutant General for Air, Major General Thomas ‘Moose’ Moore, called it the linchpin for accomplishing the exercise. “Team Savannah is the force multiplier that made ‘SS14’ a success.” The combination of key players from the 165th AW, 117th ACS, and 165th ASOS, along with the CRTC’s experienced cohort of airmen, created the required inertia for this achievement.
During the short month of February, to include only two weather cancelled days, the CRTC generated 750 combat training sorties, 570 from Savannah’s ramp and 180 divided among nearby airfields. In all, 21 Air National Guard units participated in the overall exercise; flying, fighting and training together with active duty USMC and USAF elements. The synergy of more than two billion dollars in fighter aircraft, ably flown, maintained, armed and fueled on the CRTC’s new ramp space by more than 800 airmen climaxed with the use of 4,852 munitions and the movement of 387 tons of cargo. AFNorth Commander, Lieutenant General William Etter’s reaction after his own F-16 sortie adds further weight, “What great airspace, facilities and training! I think the SAV CRTC experience is not as widely known as it should be. I look forward to another opportunity to fly here.” Additionally, the local support of Savannah’s Airport Commission and its Signature Air, along with overwhelming support from the City of Savannah and its nearby municipalities made the visit by so many units one to remember.
Far more critical than the overall success of the exercise is the ability to accomplish the critical training required to keep our airmen’s preparedness razor sharp. During the four week air-battle, 7000 ‘Ready Aircrew Program’ training events were realized, truly a staggering statistic but it goes directly to the heart of efforts by commanders at all levels to maximize utilization at the most efficient cost levels. Colonel Glen “Knockers” Nakamura, Hawaii’s ANG 154th Wing Vice-Commander, commonly referred to Savannah’s CRTC as “Air Combat Central,” and echoed by his Maintenance Officer, Major Luke ‘Money’ Swanson, “We simply can’t get this training at home station.”
This intense regional exercise proves Savannah’s CRTC and Team Savannah’s ability to conduct a short term air-war, provide exceptional training for the aircrews, maintainers, refuelers, Transient Alert, AGE, JTACS, Air Field Managers and all other support airmen, at an exceptionally low cost and without a single safety incident. Georgia’s Adjutant General, Major General Jim Butterworth, spelled it out succinctly to a group of local dignitaries and media at SS14’s midpoint, “This point should not be lost on anyone. The expertise of Team Savannah’s airmen, and the CRTC’s unique location, make it possible to train our air warriors effectively and efficiently, providing the best deal possible for the Air National Guard, the Air Force and our nation.”