Nashville Air Guard unit 'deploys' to Arnold

Paratroopers from the 861st Quartermaster Company in Nashville, Tenn., march back to the runway at Arnold Air Force Base's airfield after parchuting during a mock-deployment exercise on base. (Photo by Claude Morse)

Paratroopers from the 861st Quartermaster Company in Nashville, Tenn., march back to the runway at Arnold Air Force Base's airfield after parchuting during a mock-deployment exercise on base. (Photo by Claude Morse)

Air Reserve paratroopers from the 861st Quartermaster Company in Nashville, Tenn., jump out of a Tennessee Air National Guard C-130 Hercules over Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., April 1 during a mock-deployment exercise.  (Photo by Claude Morse)

Air Reserve paratroopers from the 861st Quartermaster Company in Nashville, Tenn., jump out of a Tennessee Air National Guard C-130 Hercules over Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., April 1 during a mock-deployment exercise. (Photo by Claude Morse)

Army Reserve Capt. Mark Lane, commander of the 861st Quartermaster Company in Nashville, Tenn., watches the Tennessee Air National Guard C-130 he jumped from taxi in at Arnold Air Force Base's airfield during an exercise held there March 31 - April 2.  (Photo by Claude Morse)

Army Reserve Capt. Mark Lane, commander of the 861st Quartermaster Company in Nashville, Tenn., watches the Tennessee Air National Guard C-130 he jumped from taxi in at Arnold Air Force Base's airfield during an exercise held there March 31 - April 2. (Photo by Claude Morse)

Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. -- Members of the Tennessee Air National Guard's 118th Airlift Wing "deployed" to Arnold Air Force Base March 31 as an exercise to train for deployment overseas.

Arnold is "a gold mine for us," said Lt. Col. Shawn Anderson, commander of the 118th Operations Support Flight, because it's close to Nashville, it has plenty of open space, and a great airfield to simulate setting up at an overseas location.

Unit training also included setting up security around the airfield, establishing a base operations center and weather and intelligence hubs, as well as receiving aircraft, and day and night parachute drops of Army Reserve paratroopers from the 861st Quartermaster Company from Nashville.

Members also trained to defend against a nighttime attack and performed weapons qualifications with the M16 rifle and M9 pistol at the base firing ranges.

"The AEDC family has been great to us," said Col. Randy Jones, vice commander of the 118th. "We became integrated with AEDC prior to Desert Shield. It has been a wonderful relationship that has been crucial in helping us keep our skills sharp and morale high."

The 118th, a C-130 unit, regularly flies missions and deploys overseas in support of the global war on terror. 118th security units have deployed overseas into combat zones to provide security for Air Force assets in theater and have been actively engaged in combat with enemy forces, earning several medals and purple hearts.

"What the Guard units are doing today would have been unheard of a decade ago, now they are fully integrated with active forces overseas," said Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Browning, who is with 118th Security Forces.

For almost two decades, the 118th has used the Arnold airfield for day and night C-130 training and as a designated parachute drop zone.

The unit completed training at Arnold Tuesday.