MIDDLE RIVER, Md. - The Maryland Air National Guard conducted a sweeping operational readiness exercise involving the full spectrum of missions and personnel across Martin State Air National Guard Base from Nov. 30 through Dec. 3.
The Air Combat Command-directed exercise, Operation Frosty Strike 2023, demonstrated the 175th Wing’s ability to survive and operate in a simulated combat environment against a near-peer adversary while executing mission-essential tasks and core job functions.
“The significance of this exercise is that it underscores our ability to conduct multidomain operations in the most difficult of situations,” said Maryland Air National Guard Col. Richard Hunt, 175th Wing commander. “With a combat deployment scheduled next year and rising threats around the globe, now more than ever we need to maintain peak readiness.”
The Airmen of the 175th Maintenance Group and 175th Operations Group were recognized for maintaining the most mission-capable A-10 fleet in the entire Air National Guard during fiscal year 2023. In addition to numerous combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 20 years, the unit played a major role in executing the aerial campaign against the Islamic State, flying some of the Air Force’s most intensive combat missions in decades.
“Over the past four days, our members have proven that they are ready, and our top-caliber pilots and maintainers who demonstrated this during the exercise aren’t created overnight,” Hunt said. “It takes years to develop the talent and experience that resides in this Wing, which is why it is so important to keep the 175th Wing in a fighter mission.”
During Operation Frosty Strike, the wing demonstrated its ability to generate air power from a main operating base and through Agile Combat Employment from an austere location. They performed integrated combat turns, rearming and refueling the A-10 with the engines running, while responding to different threat scenarios.
“These types of exercises are important because it keeps us on our toes,” said Maryland Air National Guard Master Sgt. Ryan Oldewurtel, 175th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics supervisor. “It lets us practice communication, while still being able to provide fully mission-capable aircraft during the chaos of a readiness exercise. It helps us to stay prepared for anything we may encounter in the future.”
While maintainers and pilots were generating air power, Airmen assigned to the 175th Cyberspace Operations Squadron and the 276th Cyberspace Operations Squadron kept the wing’s network operational through a plethora of threats presented during the exercise. The cyber operators worked together as a combined team and conducted defensive cyber operations.
“Exercises like this are critical to allow us to self-assess our own ability to perform our mission to ensure that when it comes time to mobilize in support of national mission teams, we have the personnel who are trained, prepared and equipped and ready to go downrange,” said Maryland Air National Guard Maj. Justin Schaber, 276th Cyberspace Operations Group Department of Cyber Operations Training assistant officer in charge.
Airmen trained in civil engineering, medical, security forces, logistics and many other support functions performed their missions and responded to simulated attacks while wearing chemical protective gear.
“The great thing about this exercise is that all of the preparation culminates into four intense days, allowing Airmen to focus on exercising core skills and demonstrating their professionalism in a simulated combat environment,” said Maryland Air National Guard Col. Paul Kanning, 175th Operations Group commander.
Airmen trained in a range of career fields performed their primary duties in simulated attacks from cyber, missiles, chemical weapons and ground forces while facing power outages, inclement weather, vehicle accidents, force protection events and equipment shortages.
“We tested Airmen from every career field at the wing in high-stress and fast-paced situations that gave them the ability to demonstrate their ability to react and perform their mission during a variety of challenges designed to stretch our capabilities, so we can see where we need to review and improve our processes,” said Hunt.
Throughout the exercise, all training scenarios were monitored and observed by the wing inspector general office and subject matter experts making up the wing inspection team.
“This exercise is a big test for how ready the wing is to deploy worldwide in a worst-case scenario for a future fight that we could potentially see,” said Maryland Air National Guard Lt. Col. Ian Alexander, 175th Wing inspector general. “We don’t normally get an opportunity to get the whole wing together over the course of four days and evaluate our Airmen in conditions that we can’t replicate during normal day-to-day training.”
At the same time, professionals assigned to the ACC inspector general’s office observed and inspected the wing inspector general’s office and their ability to implement the commander’s inspection program and conduct self-assessments.