By Staff Sgt. Peter Reft, 18th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 18, 2019
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nathan Shelton, avionics back shop technician from the 18th Component Maintenance Squadron, guards his fire team’s retreat during a break contact combat exercise as part of a multi-day training event Aug. 22, 2019, at the Jungle Warfare Training Center, Camp Gonsalves, Japan. Shelton and other Team Kadena Airmen from the 18th Wing were invited by U.S. Army Green Berets from 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), to broaden their deployment readiness capability in a joint environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Peter Reft)
A U.S. Army Green Beret from 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), and Air Force Staff Sgt. Mike Triana, independent duty medical technician paramedic from the 67th Fighter Squadron, establish a security perimeter during a small unit tactics exercise Aug. 21, 2019, at the Jungle Warfare Training Center, Camp Gonsalves, Japan. The Green Berets hosted the jungle training with Triana and other Team Kadena Airmen, assigned to the 18th Wing, as part of the Green Berets’ continuous combat readiness program. They specialize in the full spectrum of special operations throughout the Indo-Pacific Theater. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Peter Reft)
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Thomas Donahue, 18th Security Forces Squadron superintendent, establishes a security perimeter during a small unit tactics exercise Aug. 21, 2019, at the Jungle Warfare Training Center, Camp Gonsalves, Japan. Donahue participated in a multi-day field training event hosted by the U.S. Army Green Berets from 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), who specialize in the full spectrum of special operations in the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Peter Reft)
U.S. Army Green Berets from 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), conduct a small unit tactics exercise with Team Kadena Airmen from the 18th Wing, Aug. 21, 2019, at the Jungle Warfare Training Center, Camp Gonsalves, Japan. A Special Forces detachment can train joint and coalition forces to enhance a variety of warfighting skills, enhancing readiness and lethality of U.S. allies. When they are not deployed, training U.S. service members at home station further builds and develops the Green Berets’ skillsets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Peter Reft)
Throughout the Pacific Theater, U.S. military units must overcome jungle terrain riddled with cliffs, poisonous creatures, dense foliage yielding mere yards of visibility, and muddy slopes that threaten to launch anyone down 30-foot ravines of twisted roots and jagged rocks.
Welcome to the jungle.
U.S. Army Green Berets from 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), invited Team Kadena Airmen to train with them at the U.S. Marine Corps Jungle Warfare Training Center (JWTC) at Camp Gonsalves, Okinawa, Japan.
“The Special Forces detachment incorporated Airmen from around Okinawa to attend a training exercise to bridge the gap in small unit tactics, communication techniques, and patient extraction procedures between our Airmen and the Green Berets,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Triana, an independent duty medical technician paramedic (IDMT-P) from the 67th Fighter Squadron. “Each Airmen is trained in a different specialty providing various perspectives to achieve the tactical objectives presented by the detachment in the jungle.”
The Kadena Airmen’s familiarity and experience with deployments to countries such the Philippines and Thailand enabled them to withstand the Green Berets’ jungle training program. The training enabled Triana and other Airmen to expand their deployment skillsets in a severely restrictive jungle environment.
“As an IDMT-P the didactic aspect of the training improved our capabilities to deliver immediate medical care at the point of injury," said Triana. "Learning patient extraction techniques provides the capability to safely gain access to an injured patient and remove them from an adverse situation such as a cliff or ravine.”
This integration enabled the Airmen to train in basic U.S. Army Infantry squad and platoon tactics for the first time while simultaneously allowing the Special Forces detachment to hone its combat lethality and readiness posture for high intensity conflict against a near-peer adversary, according to a 1-1 SFG (A) command vision document.
“Small unit tactics and patient extraction training provided the skills necessary to perform the duties required in a tactical element or combat scenario," said Triana. "This training opportunity has enhanced our readiness to respond to humanitarian relief efforts and deploy to a declared theater of armed conflict."
Joint training with Team Kadena is only one aspect of the Special Forces detachment’s readiness plan. As the masters of the indigenous approach, the Green Berets bear the responsibility of training U.S. allies throughout the Indo-Pacific Theater, according to a 1-1 SFG (A) fact sheet. They are capable of conducting the full spectrum of special operations to identify and target threats to U.S. national interests.
“We deploy to countries throughout the INDOPACOM area of responsibility, to bilaterally train with partner nations. This partnership enhances capabilities to combat internal threats from violent extremist organizations, or other hostile actors,” said a Special Forces detachment commander. “This enables us to enhance not only our readiness and lethality to respond to a contingency or crises scenario, but also provides our foreign counterparts the skills they need to protect their sovereignty.”
The Special Forces detachment is optimizing the joint training opportunities present on Okinawa, Japan. Working with adjacent military units from the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Army allows the detachment to enhance its advisory capacity and maintain readiness before deploying to a foreign country.
“Training with these Airmen opens different channels in terms of capabilities, resources, and training value,” said a Special Forces medical sergeant. “For our Air Force counterparts, it provides a valuable opportunity for them to learn tactical skills they may never have been taught. For us, seeing them motivated, aggressively engaging in these drills, and advancing in their understanding of small unit tactics is valuable feedback for an instructor and advisor on our skills.”
The Marine Corps JWTC further enhances the Green Berets’ mission capabilities, offering a low cost, highly versatile training platform across more than 8,700 acres of heavily vegetated, mountainous terrain, according to the JWTC cadre.
“In preparation for high-intensity conflict against a near-peer adversary, our training methodology must adapt from our experiences conducting counter terrorism and counter insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said the Special Forces detachment company commander. “The opportunity to enhance our relationship with the Marine cadre at the JWTC has enabled my teams to train in the jungle, reinforcing the skills we require for this near-peer high intensity conflict.”
“The JWTC has been a great asset to us,” added the SF medical sergeant. “The command team there has a pragmatic view on training and has enabled our training plan alongside all the other courses they operate, and they put in a tremendous amount of effort to ensure our training objectives were being met.”
U.S. military organizations across Okinawa continue to develop and enhance training strategies to increase joint force lethality, strengthen alliances, and attract new partners. The Special Forces from 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) and Airmen from Kadena Air Force base train to win.
“Every country we operate in, we enhance our partnerships and alliances with our foreign counterparts,” said the SF detachment commander. “When it comes to security, we are the preferred partner choice that shares their values and principles. The U.S. is ready to assist them in preserving their sovereignty, and will maintain the rules-based free and open Indo-Pacific that has assured an unparalleled prosperity in the last 30 years.”