Airmen, Soldiers train to rapidly infiltrate enemy territory

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  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Joint Base Lewis-McChord Airmen and Soldiers successfully transported and simulated firing two High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems in a rapid infiltration HI-RAIN exercise June 22, at Moses Lake, Washington.

The purpose of the exercise called “Thunder Rain” is to help both branches become proficient in rapidly deploying and infiltrating enemy territory using HIMARS.

“I think integration is the most important part of this exercise,” said Army 1st Lt. Kade Smith, 17th Field Artillery Brigade firing platoon leader. “Building this relationship to learn how each other operate will help us avoid road blocks in future operations.”

The mission involved Soldiers and Airmen loading two HIMARs weighing more than 20,000 pounds each and a command control vehicle onto a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and flying to Moses Lake where they simulated offloading the vehicles and firing at targets as they would in a combat environment.

Not an unfamiliar routine for Soldiers and Airmen, servicemembers from JBLM have participated in HIRAIN exercises since 2012 and regularly train in offloading and unloading HIMARS to C-17s.

“We practice loading HIMARS on static aircraft all the time but it is a rare opportunity to get to transport them in scenarios like this,” said Senior Airman Patrick Bullard, 7th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. “These exercises are similar to what we would do in a real-world scenario.”

Because of the HIMARS capability to deliver precise accuracy in targeting and delivering massive destructive force, when combined with the C-17's mobility capabilities it has an extended reach, said Smith.

“This exercise highlights our capabilities as a joint base and is important to build the relationship between the Army and Air Force,” said Smith. “This displays the capabilities of the HIMARS paired with the C-17 to make it a rapidly deployable weapons system that can quickly be deployed to any continent on globe.” 

While highlighting the capabilities of the HIMARS, the training exercise also offered a variety of different training aspects to the Airmen and Soldiers participating.

“I feel like this helps us to see both sides of how things are done and how everything comes together to form a complete mission,” said Airman 1st Class Jonathan Matturro 62nd Aerial Port Squadron ramp services member. “I think this was a really good experience. We don’t often get a chance to experience offloading with engines running.”  

The Soldiers involved in the exercise concurred with the Airmen in regards to being able to train in a joint environment simulating real-world combat scenarios.

“This allows me to see how the Air Force works,” said Specialist William Webb, 17th Field Artillery Brigade HIMARS gunner. “If required I feel confident that I know what to do and am prepared for any future real-world scenarios.”

Because of the many logistics and planning that goes into a mission like this, regularly performing HIRAIN exercises are important to ensure success of future missions, said Smith.

“The repetition is what we need. Operations like this brings in everyone from the lowest level,” said Smith. “They gain an understanding that what they do is vitally important to the overall success of the operation. And they get an understanding of the intent and objective of the exercise.”