Capabilities exercise presented for base personnel, families

USAF photo: Airman 1st Class Maynelinne De La Cruz The CV-22 Osprey lands in a cloud of dust made by its own powerful propellers during a capabilities exercise as opposition forces look on June 26. The exercise showcased several different aircraft

By Senior Airman Elliott Sprehe: 27th SOW Public Affairs office

The Army Special Forces team jumped out of a Cannon MC-130W and deployed their parachutes to slowly descend to the landing zone. After hitting the hard New Mexico soil, they fanned out and moved toward their objective.

This began the scenario of the Cannon capabilities exercise held June 24 for airmen, other base personnel, and their families.

Suddenly, ATVs drove up a dirt road carrying with them a number of opposition forces who fanned out and began shooting at the Special Forces team.

The eerie quiet of the mid-day operation was soon interrupted by the sound of gunfire and grenades, which echoed across the open plains of Melrose Air Force Range as spectators watched from the safety of viewing stands on a mesa.

Assisting the team in its operation was a Cannon AC-130H Spectre gunship that provided close-air support with its 105 mm Howitzer cannon and 40 mm Bofors cannon.

Explosions from the gunship masked the already-fading sound of the gunfire as the team effectively neutralized the opposition.

In a final act of desperation, one of the remaining opposition forces ran toward the Special Forces team, finger on the trigger of what later would be discovered to be a suicide vest.

The Special Forces team, well-trained in these types of scenarios, returned fire and kept the suicide bomber from detonating her bomb. As she lay there, the vest exploded, one of the last remaining sounds of the battle.

Despite its victory in the scenario, the Special Forces team did take a casualty. Shortly after calling in for a casualty evacuation, a Cannon M-28 Skytruck landed on an improvised runway, loaded the victim, and took off just minutes after landing.

With its mission complete, the team regrouped, awaiting the arrival of a Cannon CV-22 Osprey for exfiltration of the battle scene. The aircraft flew in low and fast, turning its rotors vertically as it landed.

The team boarded the aircraft, which flew away in a fury, not giving any time for the remaining opposition forces member to engage the aircraft with a rocket-propelled grenade.

With his loaded RPG in hand and unable to fire, the lone bad guy stood motionless, surveying the damage done to his team’s failed assault, helplessly watching the CV-22 making its way out of view.

This marked the end of the capabilities exercise scenario. And as the spectators returned to their parked vehicles, they also walked away with a greater knowledge of what their friends and family stationed at Cannon do on a daily basis in defense of the United States.