Most-deployed wing in Air Force doing night practices at Wright-Patt

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Col. Thomas Palenske, 1st Special Operations Wing leader, talks about using Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a launching point for training exercise Olympus Archer. Video produced by Barrie Barber.-

Credit: DaytonDailyNews


This newspaper gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at activities inside the fence at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Count on us for continued coverage. Like our military affairs reporters page on Facebook at Barrie Barber DDN

The Air Force’s most deployed airmen are preparing for real-world scenarios they might face in combat in Olympus Archer, a training exercise based at Wright-Patterson, military leaders say.

Under the cover of darkness, more than 200 Special Operations air commandos based at Hurlburt Field, Fla., are launching night-time missions from Wright-Patterson to military training locations for what’s believed to the well-traveled unit’s first trek to the base.

“In the current war against violent extremists, our guys are the sword and shield for the United States of America,” said Thomas B. Palenske, commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing and installation commander at Hurlburt Field. “Hurlburt Field is the most deployed wing in the Air Force.”

Alongside the familiar sight of Wright-Patterson’s C-17 Globemaster III cargo jets, the Special Operations airmen brought a collection of CV-22 Ospreys that spin massive tilt rotors to take off and land like a helicopter and fly like a conventional airplane, heavily armed AC-130U Spooky gunships, and MC-130H Combat Talon II planes to the Miami Valley airfield.

The Florida-based airmen flew to Ohio to train in new terrain, said Palenske, a former Army soldier turned Air Force Special Operations Command pilot. Olympus Archer launched Aug. 12 and is set to wrap up Friday.

“The opportunity to train here in this unfamiliar environment has given us some second-to-none opportunities to really get after to taking our training to the next level to make sure when we go down range to fight our nation’s enemies, we are the best trained that we can possibly be,” he said standing on the flight line.

“If you work out of Hurlburt Field day in and day out, it gets pretty mundane,” he added. “… But what our nation needs us to do is to be able to execute these missions from anywhere in the world. So an unfamiliar location like Wright-Patt is critical to making sure we can be as sharp as we can be.”

Special Operations airmen deploy worldwide, but primarily to the Middle East, he said.

“I’d say 90 percent of the stuff that Special Operations does happens at night, and that’s mainly because we own the night,” he said.

The 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patt provided logistics to housing, among other support, while the air commandos use buildings of the 445th Airlift Wing, which flies the C-17.

“To have our comrades-in-arms use our installation as a platform from which to do their very important training, it’s just a great opportunity,” said Col. Bradley W. McDonald, 88th Air Base Wing commander.

It’s not the first time in recent years aircraft that aren’t based in the Miami Valley have temporarily made Wright-Patterson home.

In 2013, the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing in Toledo sent F-16s fighter jets and the next year the Air Force Reserve 434th Air Refueling Wing at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind., sent KC-135 flying tankers to Wright-Patterson.