Exercise reveals strengths and room for improvement
By Capt. Elaine Nowak
/ Published April 05, 2012
ALPENA, MICHIGAN -- Team Niagara, consisting of the 107th and 914th Airlift Wings, along with the 143rd Airlift Wing, Rhode Island Air National Guard, came together here at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center to participate in an Operational Readiness Exercise March 31-April 5.
The exercise offered the units an opportunity to come together as a unit, the 125th Air Expeditionary Wing, and practice a deployed wartime scenario. The exercise called for 24-hour operations with all components of a deployed force at work.
Every work section had career-field specific tasks they had to demonstrate. Exercise evaluation team members provided feedback throughout the exercise and will be giving the units an overall rating. This feedback will be key in helping prepare for deployments and inspections in the future.
Major Maria Pelow, 107th Finance Management Budget Officer, felt the experience was valuable.
"It was a chance to see all of our training in action. Not only our AFSC skills, but all of our training in wartime skills. It really brought it all together," she said. "It was also great to see team synergy in our work area, and through interactions with other functions," she added.
Murphy's Law was in effect as many found out. When the scenario is that you are setting up an airbase and a war begins within 24 hours, things are bound to go wrong. One example of this was when Services attempted to set up a field kitchen, one of their required tasks. They discovered that mold had grown on the tent as it sat in storage. Public Health confirmed it would not be safe to prepare food in the tent. But Services adapted to the unexpected challenge, and in the end, served everyone a hot meal.
The exercise is just one part of an extensive preparation for an Operational Readiness Inspection scheduled for this summer. Airmen received special training in communications, security forces/weapons, and hardening facilities. Previous exercises included three Operational Readiness Training Program exercises and a Position the Force exercise, where the unit practiced mobilizing from home station.
"This exercise was an excellent learning experience for all involved," said Col. Jim McCready, 107th Airlift Wing Commander. "We know there is work to do but I'm confident we'll be ready for the ORI in July," he said.