DVIDS – News – Emergency Response Dominates ACE Exercise During Southern Strike


An F-16 Fighting Falcon escorts a C-17 Globemaster III in a simulated austere environment. Engines are running, personnel disembark from the C-17, cargo is downloaded, the airfield is prepared for other planes to land, and within minutes a security perimeter is established and communications are online. This tempo of operation is second nature to those in the emergency response community.

With only four emergency response combatants and two emergency response groups within the Air National Guard, what these Airmen can achieve in minutes under extreme conditions is exceptional.

“Emergency response is essentially an air wing in a box,” said Lt. Col. Wes Carter, commander of the 172nd Contingency Response Flight. “What we’re doing is going to an airfield that’s either in a war environment that’s been taken over by our army or marine corps counterparts, and we’re going to come in and take possession of it and start the flight operations. Our goal is to land the first aircraft within 24 hours.”

Emergency Response Units also respond to disasters during domestic operations. The unique construction of these organizations allows them to control an airfield that cannot operate due to damage sustained in hurricanes, earthquakes, or other natural disasters.

“I first heard about the CRF was last year during an Agile Combat Employment exercise,” said Lt. Col. John Pegg, 100th Fighter Squadron commander. “Our planes need a lot of support. We have maintainers, avionics, weapons and other moving parts to load and deliver the weapons.” Pegg said using agencies like the CRF as soon as you hit the ground makes what would be an impossible feat possible.

For many Airmen who participated in Southern Strike 2022, it was their first time participating in an exercise in ACE where airframes from combat air forces, mobility air forces, as well as Army assets , simultaneously shared an airfield.

“We have a lot of hands-on training and a lot more action than expected, but that’s part of the training, and we welcome a challenge,” said Airman 1st Class Jose Colom, an airlift specialist assigned to the 156th Contingency Response Grouper. “We did a lot of running engine dumps, which is not very common for us, as well as night vision ops, which is new to me.”

Lt. Col. Todd Morgan, commander of the 146th Contingency Response Flight, said that while the Contingency Response Flights would undergo a modernization that would allow them to have a team of around 29 Airmen who can provide a working air operation anywhere in the world while working an aircraft anytime for 12 hours, operations are organically integrated into the units force structure, exercises like Southern Strike are essential.

“This type of training is absolutely crucial for us to build relationships within the emergency response community,” Morgan said. “During Operation Allies Welcome, Volk Field and Holloman Air Force Base were controlled by the Air National Guard, emergency response elements. None of these elements were purely organic to their own unit.”

The Airmen’s agile and flexible reactions were deft and effective, with continuous injections presented to the Airmen throughout the exercise.

“Our injections are realistic, and even if they don’t know what to do, there’s an after-action report afterwards,” Tech said. sergeant. Brian Visnic, flight sergeant assigned to the 821st Contingency Response Squadron. “It’s a learning environment. This is where you fail. You want to fail here, so when you deploy you’ll know what to do.”

Traditional guards who do not practice their skills on a daily basis have been able to hone their craft and gain valuable knowledge on how to operate as a cohesive entity.

“One thing that was pretty neat is that it’s my first exercise and one of the things I was able to do was build on my training,” Airman 1st Class Jonathan Milian said. , a security forces specialist assigned to the 156th Security Operations Squadron. “I just graduated from technical school and the training they gave us was very beneficial. I just came back from my training, I had great team communication and it’s cool to see how well we were all able to work together for the first time.”

“These are just the basics, and we keep adding them. So, considering this was their first exercise, it’s a great foundation they can start building on.” , said Staff Sgt. Anthony Barnes, fire team leader assigned to the 821st CRS. “Every day we’ve been here, we’ve seen improvements in certain areas. We’ve given them continuous feedback, and I’m happy with what we’ve seen.”

Carter said the amount of training they were able to accomplish in four days could sometimes take up to ten years to orchestrate. Even with the increased tempo, the professionalism of all Airmen involved made the exercise an invaluable training mission.

“The emergency response community is currently sitting in the direction the Air Force is heading,” Morgan said. “When you have versatile Airmen, you take an individual and not only teach them their specific role, but they will learn other abilities. That Airman will be the subject matter expert in their professional field, but we can increase the personnel. where needed.”

Morgan said it was his first time operating in Southern Strike. He said exercises like this allow them to push their personnel to their training limits while employing the doctrines they operate under in a safe environment.

Southern Strike is a large-scale conventional and special operations exercise hosted by the Mississippi National Guard at Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center, Camp McCain Training Center, Naval Air Station Meridian, Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, and other training locations. The exercise helps our joint team maintain combat readiness, build relationships, strengthen interoperability and prepare for possible future emergency missions.

Date taken: 05.06.2022
Date posted: 05.09.2022 12:53
Story ID: 420219

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