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 possible.
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.
Along with 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 area.
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 hot showers.”
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.
“Being submerged 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.
“We tend 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 one team!”
By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Heather Heiney
Provided through DVIDS
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