FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --
Nearly 5,000 miles away from home, Air National Guardsmen from different agencies within the 141st Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base and the 194th Wing, Camp Murray, Wash. had the opportunity to complete their annual training and work alongside their active duty counterparts in early April at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.
There were a range of different career fields that represented the wings, including public affairs, safety, personnel, inspector general, and the base legal office. The Airmen from each wing embedded themselves in their respective shops to achieve training requirements, gain helpful tricks of the trade, as well as assist in task completion where possible.
“We wanted to integrate with a wing that had a different mission set as ours,” said Maj. Greg Martin, the mission commander from the 141st ARW. “The goal was to gain some insight into the challenges across a diverse set of career fields and to offer some of our own insight into the operational differences and those challenges from an ANG perspective.”
In the months leading up to the training, each Airman provided different training objectives they wanted to accomplish to their leadership and were able to reach out to their counterparts at Spangdahlem to come up with a training plan.
“I was able to have face-to-face training with their budget analyst and go over how they operated and prepared training plans for their resource advisors and resource center advisors,” said Master Sgt. Brandy Trego, a budget analyst in the 141st Air Refueling Wing’s comptroller flight. “That was something I really wanted to focus on because we had identified that as a deficiency during our unit effectiveness inspection. They were able to provide me with slides that I was able to bring back and tailor to our needs which was really valuable.”
In addition to training, the Guardsmen were not only able to gain some insight on best practices, but also get a sense of how a fighter base with a different mission set other than air refueling operates plus get hands-on experience with operations in a different country.
“It’s a completely different environment; a completely different feel,” said Trego. “It’s a different dynamic than what we have in our unit. I liked that it gave us, as well as our active duty counterparts, a broader perspective on how all of us play a part in the big picture.”
Trego and the other Guardsmen were able to step in and help manage the customer service counter and assist in completing tasks to help alleviate the workload in the comptroller flight, which was a mutual benefit to both parties.
Keeping rules and cultural sensitivities in mind was important to service members visiting another country. Germany offers an abundance of different activities and the base keeps a close relationship with the local communities.
Learning their customs and courtesies was necessary, said Martin. The public affairs shop holds weekly meetings with community and civic leaders to discuss activities and projects on and off base and help to continue strengthening their shared partnership.
“It was great to share some of the unique features that the guard brings to the table that you might not even realize,” said Martin. “I felt our teams were hugely beneficial to the Spangdahlem shops and the training was also great for the 141st and 194th because we now have some better relationships with people around the wing and that’s a benefit to everyone.”