Deployments take place in an atmosphere that’s completely
different than what most Americans experience in their daily lives.
That’s why it’s important for Reserve Citizen Airmen to train in an
environment that mirrors a real-world deployment as closely as
Recently, several groups from the 403rd Wing
joined hundreds of members of the Air Force Reserve at Ft. McCoy,
Wisconsin for exercise Patriot Warrior. Throughout the exercise
members completed joint training and ran through dozens of scenarios
with the goal of improving the combat readiness of forces through
practical hands-on exercises in an austere environment.
August 23, 2017 - Members of the 403rd Wing exit an 815th Airlift
Squadron C-130J Super Hercules aircraft upon their return from
exercise Patriot Warrior at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather Heiney)
This team included members from the 403rd Security Forces
Squadron, 815th Airlift Squadron and 36th Aeromedical
Evacuation Squadron as well as Col. Brian May, 403rd
Operations Group commander, who played a forward operating
base wing commander and Master Sgt. Anthony Flores from the
815th AS who played May’s aide de camp.
Army and other Air Force Reserve units they set up a forward
operating base from the ground up on an empty patch of land
at Young Army Air Assault Strip. This FOB had everything
necessary to complete the simulated mission including 44
tents, laundry facilities and even shave and shower stations
with hot running water. They also had a dining facility that
served more than 600 personnel, a chapel, a finance office,
communications, a Personnel Support for Contingency
Operations team, an expeditionary Medical Support hospital
and en-route patient staging system with fifty beds each,
and a complete logistics yard.
FOB Young came together in two days ready to exercise
reconstituting U.S. combat capability by evacuating and redeploying
combat and combat support personnel out of a simulated war-torn
May said that he was impressed with the ingenuity of
all his personnel, but the “no-quit” attitude of his civil
engineering members is what helped FOB Young grow to greatness.
“My CE guys did some stuff I can’t even explain,” May said.
“They fixed a water pump for the showers with miscellaneous latrine
parts they found and then got the boiler working so we could have
After the FOB was established, the team spent
the rest of their time simulating a deployed environment and
completing training exercises. Some events included the 36th AES
transferring simulated patients in different medical conditions from
one location to another, the 815th AS conducting a resupply airdrop
and the 403rd SFS practicing perimeter security during simulated
attacks and live weapon firing.
“Watching our ERPSS folks
work hand-in-hand with our AE crews truly heightened everyone’s
sense of military pride,” May said. “ERPSS is truly a force enabler
of military airlift that enhances global reach and everyone at FOB
Young felt their importance in accomplishing the mission.”
Senior Airman Jonathan Kling, 403rd SFS fire team member, played a
squad leader during Patriot Warrior. He said that the experience
gave him a new perspective about how each decision affects the
troops beneath him and that in the future he’ll better understand
what his squad leader expects from him.
into the deployment atmosphere you get into the scenario and you
almost start to believe it,”
May said that exercises like
these are great opportunities for people to not only prove they can
operate at the next level, but also to gain an appreciation of how
everyone else contributes to the overall mission.
to have a myopic view of things because we focus on our specific
job, but this is a chance to understand how everyone integrates
together,” May said. “Everyone worked their tail off; we were truly
By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Heather Heiney
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