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190th Air Refueling Wing provides air support in Gunslinger Exercise

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Meagan Gardner
  • 190th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

SMOKY HILL AIR NATIONAL GUARD RANGE, Kan. -- Military units from all over the United States joined together at Smoky Hill Air National Guard Range near Salina, Kansas in June for a two week long joint force employment exercise called Gunslinger. The exercise was aimed at supporting joint force training objectives by focusing on aviation command and control, aviation ground support, supporting aircrew training, and jointly integrating aviation assets.

Gunslinger was a Large Force Exercise that was held during the month of June involving participants from the Air National Guard, Marine Corp, and Army from all over the nation.  This was a great opportunity for ground components to work closely with air resources in order to help improve communication techniques and mission readiness.

The concept to the Gunslinger exercise was to help bridge a gap between the marines and the air force.  The focus of this event was to help all military members understand the different military jargon used for combat deployments.  This allowed for a better understanding between the two branches.

The 190th Air Refueling Wing supported the exercise by providing fuel to multiple air assets, including; F-18s, A-10s, B-52s and the E-8. Refueling in the air extended the time and range of participating units, allowing them to take off, partake in the exercise, and return to their home stations.

“Without 190th tanker support the air aspect of the mission would not have been possible,” said Capt. Todd Clain, a pilot for the 190th ARW.

The KC-135 didn’t just provide fuel support, the aircraft and aircrew were also players in the exercise.  With the important tasking of keeping planes in the air, the KC-135 was also considered a special asset and was therefore “targeted by the enemy”, allowing for fighters to practice protecting the tankers and providing support for ground assets.  This helps facilitate a better understand of real world combat situations for all pilots and ground forces.

Although air support was the biggest role the 190th played, it was not the only contribution toward the exercise. The 190th Civil Engineering Squadron was also tasked with the setup of the state of Kansas’ Disaster Relief Beddown System in Salina, Kansas, allowing for participating Marines to comfortably stay near the exercise location. In addition to the Beddown System, sleeping tents, shower and shave facilities and self-help laundry was also supplied.

“I spent one hundred plus hours training and helping over one hundred Marines set up the camp,” said Tech. Sgt. Lyle Johnson.

 “Gunslinger is an example of how we are building a resilient joint force in accordance with the priorities outlined in the 2022 National Defense Strategy,” said Colonel Brian Budden, Commander of the 190th ARW.

Whether it was in the air or on the ground, the 190th dedicated time and personnel in support of joint training objectives through the execution of the Gunslinger exercise.