By Joe Utter and Tiffany Sukola, November 15, 2013, Columbia Basin Herald
Army Rangers and Air Force Special Forces are conducting a military training exercise in the Moses Lake and Tacoma areas starting this week.
The training will last until Nov. 22, with the first week held at Joint Base Lewis McChord then moving to the Moses Lake area, according to base officials.
Port of Moses Lake officials said the Moses Lake portion of the training will take place at the Grant County International Airport Nov. 18 to Nov. 22.
The exercise is basically a simulation of an airport capture, the Port’s Greg Becken said during a recent port commission meeting.
“The Army has been working with us to do an airport capture,” he told commissioners. “They’re going to come in and attack our airfield as if it were a foreign soil airfield, restore it and base an operation out of it.”
An estimated 300 military personnel will jump from planes onto the airfield during the exercise, Becken said. They’ll rescue refugees from an offsite location, bring them back to the airfield and load them up on planes, he said.
Becken said next week’s exercise is a little different than previous exercises held at the port. He told commissioners Rangers will crater a hole on one of the taxiways and repair it during the training.
The hole will be created using explosives, but the port chose an unutilized piece of pavement for the military to use, Becken said.
To make the exercise as realistic as possible, it will be conducted at night and nearby residents may hear increased air traffic, according to JBLM. Rangers from the Second Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment will also be using simulated munitions and small pyrotechnics, which may cause loud noises.
Rangers are being tested on their combat skills in a simulated urban environment similar to those they may find in combat missions. This is a routine military exercise conducted periodically to maintain a high level of combat readiness for the Rangers.
The aircraft involved will include helicopters such as Black Hawks and Chinooks, as well as AC-130 Hurcules, CV-22 Ospreys and C-17 Globemaster III airplanes moving troops and providing close air support.
The training has been fully coordinated with the base and Moses Lake city officials. The unit is extremely sensitive to the impact that the training has on local citizens and safety is the first priority, according to officials. Rangers will receive up-to-date safety briefings and safety standards must be observed at all times.
Units from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, from Fort Campbell, Ky., and Air Force Special Operations Command, from Hurlburt Field, Fla., are also participating.