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Wheatland Sun

Navy SEALs Train with Beale Defenders During Exercise Dragon Trident

Feb 21, 2024 03:56PM ● By Tech. Sgt. Samuel A. Burns

East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare Operators (SEALs) fire a M224 mortar during Exercise Dragon Trident 1 at Fallon, Nevada on Jan. 30. This joint exercise gave SEALs and 9th Security Forces Airmen from Beale Air Force Base an opportunity to train on various weapons systems, increasing their efficiency and lethality. Courtesy photo by Tech. Sgt. Samuel A Burns

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, CA (MPG) - Forty Airmen from the 9th Security Forces Squadron (SFS), 9th Medical Group (MDG) and 9th Operations Support Squadron (OSS) from Beale Air Force Base, California, teamed up with East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare Operators (SEALs) for joint Exercise Dragon Trident from Jan. 29 to Jan. 31. This three-day training exercise involved base defense operations, weapons training and re-capture operations.

The exercise kicked off with 9th SFS Airmen establishing air base ground defense with command and control, mobile security patrols and defensive fighting positions at the forward operating site (FOS). Beale’s defenders were on guard with ultimate training munitions (UTM) to defend themselves from a series of unknown maneuvers from SEAL team operators infiltrating the FOS. Under the cover of darkness, the SEALs conducted a free-fall enabled nighttime raid supported by fixed wing and rotary wing assets.

“After getting set up, we knew an attack was coming, but we didn’t know where it would come from,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Aaisha Banks, 9th Security Forces Squadron cyber security liaison. “This is new training for most of us, and it helps us prepare for real world encounters by showing where our deficiencies are and where we can improve.”

Alongside the 9th SFS Airmen were the 9th OSS Airmen, including airfield management, air traffic control, radar airfield and weather systems, who assisted in drop zone setup and integrated with SFS for multi-capable Airman training.

On the second day of training, Beale Airmen went to the firing range to train on the M-249 light machine gun, M-240 machine gun, M-4 carbine and P320-M18 pistol. They also utilized the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS) system inside Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) firing the .50 caliber machine gun and MK-19 grenade launcher. The SEALs provided tips and techniques to enhance 9 SFS efficiency and lethality with various weapons systems.

“The most memorable experience was using the CROWS system in the M-ATV since it gives us a safe position to strike our targets,” said Airman 1st Class Jaylin Charles, 9th SFS protection level 1 entry controller. “[The SEALs] also gave us great hands-on training on grip and stance for firing our handguns and rifles, as well as better squad tactics for machine gun firing.”

The roles reversed on the third day of training as Beale Airmen executed re-capture operations alongside SEAL teammates. Using UTMs, the joint unit infiltrated the forward operating site, utilizing squad tactics to raid and secure the site. This exercise was beneficial for the Airmen and the SEALs, as it allowed them to see how the other side functions and how to operate as one cohesive unit.

“When we look at strategic competition and future conflict, we need to establish the relationships in our joint community to ensure success on the battlefield,” said Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Ricks, 9th SFS senior enlisted leader.

Training between Air Force security forces and Navy SEALs is not common, but a collaboration of senior leaders made it possible.

“In November of 2022, and I were classmates at the Joint Special Operations Forces Senior Enlisted Academy (JSOFSEA) and had numerous conversations about the importance of joint operations and bringing our units together to train,” said Ricks.

Throughout 2023, the conversations turned into actions that brought this unique training opportunity to life. Within 14 months of the initial idea, Exercise Dragon Trident 1 kicked off.

“It’s always easy to say ‘no’ but it takes a lot of effort to say ‘yes’ and follow through on your promises and put forward the effort to make this type of training happen,” said the SEAL senior enlisted leader. “We wanted a near-peer adversary to present a difficult target set for our final end of cycle training exercise before going downrange. The planning during the exercise was very in depth and detailed. Upon assessing the base defense that was established, it forced the assault team to change the game plan on the fly, presenting a whole different level of complexity, which provided outstanding training value.”

After three adrenaline-filled training days, both sides wrapped it up with in-depth feedback, pointing out areas for improvement for everyone involved. Those improvements are hoped to be implemented in the near future, as the 9th SFS and SEALs are expecting this to be the first of many joint exercises. This new training environment sharpened both the 9th SFS and SEALs skills, keeping them primed and ready for real-world wartime operations.