Warriors prove mettle at exercise

  • Published
  • By Col. Lee DeRemer
  • 319th Operations Group
For eight days and nights, mobility warriors from the 319th Air refueling Wing joined our mission partners from the 62nd and 446th Air Wing, McChord Air force Base, for Exercise Operation Thunderbolt at the Combat Readiness Training Center in Alpena, Michigan. 

In this final ability to survive and operate “fly-away” exercise before our upcoming Operational Readiness Inspection, more than 400 Warriors of the North joined a team of more than 1,000 that became the 603rd air expeditionary team. At Alpena our mobility warriors conducted initial response, deployment, employment, ATSO, and redeployment actions. After a successful fly-away exercise in March, our experts resolved issues that we could only see do being there. Because of that experience, our wings developed informed solutions and tested them in at Alpena last week 

As our exercise players know, those solutions worked. In-processing, meal service, billeting, aerial port services, command and control, out-processing and the airflow all succeeded. Better yet, these solutions came from the right place: the experts. 1st Lt. Pat Kelly answered the 62 air wing commanders request for a detailed plan and brief on theater deployed communications, and his initiatives were a big success story for the 1,000 person deployed wing. One look at the inside of a C-17 stuffed with all the pallets required for a TDC package provides insight into the scope and complexity of “deployed comm.” Lieutenant Cassandra Ramsey and Master Sgt Todd Tureskis worked hard with our partners to integrate our security and anti terrorism/force protection effort. 1st Lt. Susan Mireles and Master Sgt. Keith Hollis developed a solution that ensured our achievement of 100 percent “first-day” accountability, and they built and tested a solid outprocessing solution. Major Paul Swenson and Lieutenant Keith Prince broke the code on serving meals to 1,000 people in one sitting, and they had the kitchen running before the last chalk was even in place. Capt. James Wiese and the Logistics Readiness Squadron collaborated with the Operations Group, the Maintenance Group, and the 62nd AW to build and execute airflows for deployment and redeployment that would put Northwest Airlines to shame with their efficiency and flexibility. Finally, Technical Sgt. Roger Pestana’s command post team had a great week as the nerve center of command and control through continuously changing mission oriented protected posture and alarm levels, and force protection conditions. 

Over the next three weeks, units and individuals will put the final touches on their individual ATSO skills, but we owe it to ourselves to acknowledge how far we’ve. Our ability to deploy, employ and redeploy is something we can be proud of. As Col. Bender points out, we owe a debt of gratitude to our Inspector General and Exercise Evaluation Team for getting us here. But I want thank each member, too, for the willingness to train and learn. This high level of readiness and the incredible attitude from start to finish is unmistakable when you see it in person, and I’m certain the Air Mobility 
Command/Inspector General won’t miss it in June. 

We’ve come far. We’re fully ready, with the skills and attitude to match, because we’ve done the hard training. As we round the final turn, I look forward to finishing strong with you. 

When you pack, be sure to bring two things—your “A game” and the attitude to match.