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Emerald Warrior tests air commandos' mettle

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Cassandra Saphore
  • Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

Air Force Special Operations Command’s 17th annual Emerald Warrior exercise concluded recently, having exercised in three extreme cold weather environments throughout the midwestern U.S. with many firsts.

This U.S. Special Operations Command-supported exercise aligned with the Special Operations Command-Europe exercise Trojan Footprint under the large-scale global exercise construct to demonstrate special operations forces’ value to the joint force and strengthen military relationships with U.S. and partner forces.

“Our nation has entered a new era of competition,” said Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, AFSOC commander. “We must continue to innovate and transform to remain the most capable, most lethal Air Force in the world … and that’s exactly what AFSOC is doing.”

Air commandos trained on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear readiness incorporating new decontamination systems like the CBRN MRZR that supports decontamination during infiltration, exfiltration, tactical movement and maneuver where force size and composition constraints exist.

A continued focus area this year was building autonomy through mission command to ensure special operations task groups and special operations task units are trained to operate in today’s dynamic operating environment.


“Every Emerald Warrior, we build on lessons learned from previous iterations and this year was no different,” said Lt. Col. David Allen, Emerald Warrior exercise director. “We further developed the Agile Combat Employment concept through mission sustainment teams by successfully relocating two special operations task groups, or SOTGs, to multiple locations. These SOTGs exercised flexible response options conducting strategic fires, air-to-ground integration with close air support and non-kinetic effects to deter aggression.”

In addition to kinetic effects, Emerald Warrior exercised non-kinetic effects and capabilities like space, cyber, public affairs and information operations. They employed technical and deceptive activities in support of exercise objectives for the participants to enhance overall combat operability.

“We exercise everything from military free fall, to calling in air support, to even drafting a strategic message to push out,” Allen said. “Our air commandos have the natural ability to change and transform to succeed and create dilemmas for our adversaries and that is displayed in exercises like Emerald Warrior.”

Emerald Warrior ensures preparedness of special operations forces, conventional force enablers, partner forces and interagency elements through realistic and relevant, high-end pre-deployment training encompassing multiple joint operating areas.