New proficiency exercise streamlines training for CAAs
By Air Force Senior Airman Dylan M. Gentile, 919th Special Operations Wing
/ Published April 08, 2021
DUKE FIELD, Fla. -- Combat Aviation Advisors from the 711th Special Operations Squadron employed a new method to accomplish annual training requirements. The squadron’s first ever two-week long Proficiency Exercise in March combined specialized training scenarios that took place at locations across the Eglin Range.
CAAs advise, assist and instruct service members from our partner nations. Historically, their training was more fragmented which made it harder to track. The PROEX established a more efficient avenue for meeting their specialized recurring currency requirements.
“The real achievement here was getting all the traditional reservists in one spot together, usually there’s one over here and one over there,” said Tech Sgt. Dane Tosi, 711th SOS CAA. “This new training cycle keeps them together. We train as a team because, we fight as a team.”
Airmen from the 24th Special Operations Wing, 492nd SOW and soldiers from the 7th Special Forces Group also participated in the exercise. They worked together to plan scenarios during the exercise that would allow the CAAs to embed with other units in a deployed environment.
The exercise provided a consolidated schedule for traditional Reservists to maintain currency in their field. The PROEX also included training for fixed wing landing zone operations, casualty evacuation and close air support training.
“The inaugural 711 SOS PROEX showcased the ingenuity and resourcefulness of our CAAs,” said Lt. Col. Andrea McElvaine, 711th SOS Chief of Weapons and Tactics. “This was a valuable training opportunity that wasn’t available previously within the unit.”
Many of the participants in the exercise were experienced Reservists who brought experience from recent deployments and previous operational engagements.
“We’re dealing with professionals in their field that have been in [the U.S. Air Force] for years," said Tosi. “The training is based around problem-seeking and problem-solving.”
The final day of the exercise included a scenario that combined all aspects of training earlier in the PROEX. During this final event teams of CAAs dispatched through the Eglin Range on rugged dirt roads. They simulated providing security for a community leader, dealt with socio-political tensions, and traversed the wilderness to air evacuate a casualty they were caring for.
This new method of accomplishing training to maintain readiness is slated to occur at least once a year going forward and will prepare Citizen Air Commandos to carry out the aviation foreign internal defense mission downrange.
For more information on the 711th SOS and Duke Field’s Total Force Integration partners, check out the 919th Special Operations Wing on Facebook and Instagram.