EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE - Readiness Safeguard Presents Many Challenges

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jennifer C. Howsare
  • 126ARW - Public Affairs Office

The May unit training assembly proved to be a bit more challenging than some previous drills. More than 300 members of the 126th Air Refueling Wing packed their bags and boarded awaiting aircraft for a base within the Middle Eastern Theater of Operations. While their actual destination was the Readiness Safeguard Exercise at the Combat Readiness and Training Center at Volk Field, Wis., members who "deployed" got a taste of MOPP 4 and base attacks for several days.
Unit members at home station were faced with the daunting task of processing nearly 330 Wing members and 24 short tons of cargo. "It always amazes me how everything comes together during events like an ORE, ORI, or actual deployment," said Chief Master Sgt. Susan Bowers, superintendent of the Mission Support Flight. Chief Master Sgt. Bowers was the NCOIC of the personnel deployment function processing line and her people were an important link in the long chain leading to getting members out the door, on time and ready, for deployment. "I know how important our processing line
is to the overall deployment process and I know the individuals assigned to the line will do whatever it takes to process quickly and accurately," said Bowers.
While most of the "deploying" Wing members departed on the Wing's own KC-135 aircraft, a few members departed shoulder-to-shoulder and knee-to-knee, strapped tightly in the cargo seats aboard a C-130 aircraft. The tight space and high temperature in the aircraft combined with the vibration generated from the C-130's four propeller engines was enough to make more than one person airsick. But despite the conditions of the flight, all personnel hit the ground ready for duty.
Once at the deployed location, Wing members faced improvised explosive devices or IEDs, air and missile attacks, ground attacks, cyber attacks to networks and systems and plenty of self-aid/buddy care and chemical warfare posturing. Just in time training covering areas such as self-aid/buddy care, CBRNE training, explosive ordnance disposal and other topics of interest was conducted prior to the start of the actual "war" days.
The two days of "war" were packed with scenarios to put the skills of every deployed airman to the test. The Giant Voice boomed instructions and constant reminders to 'hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!' However, when the smoke cleared and the bombs stopped dropping, Colonel Peter Nezamis, commander 126th Air Refueling Wing, was pleased with what he had seen.
"The preparation, attitude, performance, and willingness to try new approaches and adapt to the changes in the battlefield shown at Readiness Safeguard have set a new standard of excellence for the 126 ARW," said Nezamis. "Simply put, I have complete confidence in this Wing's dedication and desire to overcome any obstacle."