BOISE -- For the next week and-a-half, you may see some strange-looking activity around the city of Boise, with groups of men talking on radios and looking to the skies. It's all part of a training exercise that officers said they couldn't remember every happening outside a training range. But, they say it's crucial to their mission overseas, and that few other places, besides Boise, provide a suitable environment for it.
From July 16th to July 25th, the Idaho Air National Guard will practice their communication with tactical teams on the ground.
"That's probably one of the most important pieces, and sometimes toughest nut to crack," said Lt. Col. Scott Downing, A-10 pilot with 190th fighter squadron of the Idaho Air National Guard. "A misinterpreted word or phrase can do a lot of damage in a hurry."
You won't hear or really see much of the Guard's jets. But what you might see is a sight that could be worrisome. Around the foothills, or even in the city, a bunch of guys will be standing around talking on radios and looking up in the sky. Don't worry, they're with the Air Force.
While the Air Guard is honing their communication from the skies, a group of tactical air command and control specialists from a base in Florida will be honing their communication from the ground. The team will be training with a new piece of equipment, calling in simulated air strikes, and practicing coordination between ground and air, before they deploy to Afghanistan.
2nd Lt. Robert Steiner, with the 124th fighter wing of the Idaho Air National Guard, does a very similar job, and explains their goal, "The aircraft knowing at all times where they're at, and the ground forces being able to tell the aircraft where they're at on the ground, in the maze that is the urban environment."
But, why did they come all the way from Florida to Boise? While teams rarely train in the city itself, teams are here on the ranges pretty regularly. "We have them visiting almost every month of the year from different states," said Lt. Col. Downing.
Officers say it's because of the sharpness of Idaho's 124th fighter wing, and the geography of the area and city being similar to where they have, and where they will, deploy. "It offers very realistic training, and that training directly translates to saving lives when we're overseas," said 2nd Lt. Steiner.
The training runs from the 16th to the 25th. While the Florida ground team will be deploying soon, there's no plans for the Idaho Air Guard to deploy. But, it's their job to stay ready.
If you have any questions, the Idaho Air Guard's 124th fighter wing encourages you to give them a call. Their number is (208) 422-5398.