Gold Thunder 2.0 prepares ST combat mission support team for real world ops

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kristine Dreyer
  • 353rd Special Operations Group Public Affairs
To meet the unique deployed demands levied upon the combat mission support team the 320th Special Tactics Squadron created a program that gives their combat mission support specialists, known as Gold Team, the training needed to ensure the operators get the support they need in real world operations.

Members from 320th Special Tactics Squadron Gold Team completed Gold Thunder 2.0 June 22-26, 2015 at Camp Hansen, Japan.

Gold Thunder 2.0 is a humanitarian assistance disaster relief scenario exercise put together to train the combat mission support personnel in land and water navigation, establishing a Special Tactics Operations Center, STOC, and a forward logistics hub along with other skills such as family of special operations vehicles, FOSOV, qualification training, Krav Maga hand-to-hand combat training and exfiltration capabilities utilizing rotary wing aircraft.

“Gold Thunder is designed to maintain a disciplined, cohesive and high endurance cadre of combat mission support personnel that can tolerate the uncertainty inherent to special operations,” said Lt. Col. Edmund Loughran, 320th STS commander. “I could not be more proud of Gold Team and what they have accomplished this week as they hone their unique skill sets to project SOF airpower in the Pacific.”

This is a continuation to Gold Thunder 1.0 held previously where the Special Tactics combat mission support personnel from various career fields such as supply, aircrew flight equipment, and vehicle maintenance and operations, were taught urban jungle land navigation skills by the 320th STS survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist.

“At the 320th, support personnel must be held to a high standard to meet the demanding tasks and ops tempo,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Theodore Fioto, 320th Special Tactics Squadron, Gold Team flight chief. “Here we are considered a force multiplier and work alongside the Special Tactics operators in the AOR specifically during Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief events.

The exercise began with rotary wing aircraft familiarity training. During the training, each person learned the proper way to enter and exit the aircraft from a 33rd Rescue Squadron HH-60 crew.

On day two of the exercise, the Gold Thunder forces were dropped off in an urban location and given the location of their watercraft. They were advised to split into two groups, so they could blend in better just as required in a real world situation. Once they found the watercraft, they were given the coordinates for their final destination, and, as a team, they navigated through the water to their forward operating location where they set up to receive HA/DR supplies and set up a 24-hour STOC .

“One of our commander’s intent is to deploy the support personnel in Gold Flight as a mobile command and control in order to keep our operators moving forward and allowing a supply line as well as a communications relay position,” said Fioto. “Take Operation Damayan for example, we had four combat mission support personnel hopping airfield to airfield assisting in the STS moto ‘First there/That others may live.’“

On the third and final day, Gold Thunder participants put their rotary wing training from day one into action when the scenario called for a sanitation and evacuation of the location by water via rotary wing aircraft. Each person was hoist from the water by 320th STS Pararescuemen into a Kadena-based HH-60 helicopter from the 33rd Rescue Squadron.

“This was great training,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Collin Bourque, 320th STS. “The support personnel do deploy out with the operators, so this training will help us be able to handle situations like this in a real world scenario and better support the operators.”