Wings train as a team
By Capt. Larry Kohlman, 141 ARW Public Affairs
/ Published February 26, 2009
25 Feb 2009 -- A simulated environment of in-coming missiles, mortar attacks, sniper fire, suicide bombers and a few car bombings enveloped the atmosphere for more than 500 airmen from Fairchild AFB that deployed in January to Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, Michigan in support of the Inspector General Exercise, Thunderbolt 09-03.
Airmen from the 92nd Air Refueling Wing and Guardsmen from the 141 ARW came together to form the 903rd Air Expeditionary Wing to practice for the upcoming Operational Readiness Inspection that will begin March 22, 2009.
These types of inspections demonstrate both wings abilities to deploy to an austere environment, sustain operational capabilities while surviving an attack and then to redeploy to home station. The ORI is one of the tools that the Air Mobility Command Inspector General uses to assess the operational capabilities of wings within the command.
The skills that airmen practiced and honed during the exercise will be the same skills that will be inspected for the ORI.
"Airmen can expect similar scenarios during the ORI," said Lt. Col. Marc Jones, 141st ARW Chief of Plans and Programs. "Preparation is the key to success. I encourage everyone to read through the ground rules, simulations, and read files."
The March Unit Training Assembly may be the last opportunity many Guardsmen will have to prepare for the ORI. Guardsmen that would like additional training beyond the UTA may attend refresher classes hosted by the 92 ARW. Training will be held in Hangar 2050 on Fridays during the months of February and March prior to the ORI. Two training sessions per day will be offered, one at 8:00 a.m. and another at 1:00 p.m. Uniform of the day is Mission Oriented Protective Posture, Level 2.
The 141st Civil Engineering Squadron is one unit that has been in a continual state of preparedness throughout the last three years. "As a squadron, we have gone through more inspections than many other units since the ORI in 2006," said Capt. Jason Kesler, 141 ARW Design Engineer.
"You need to maintain a positive attitude and know your airman's manual," said Capt. Kesler. "The type of inputs will be similar; however, during the inspection when you're not busy you can expect an inspector to be there asking you questions about buddy care, first aid or even the proper way to drink from your canteen in MOPP gear."
Beyond the simulated enemy during the IGX the real world adversary was the sub-zero temperatures. "Slips, trips and falls were the common denominator for both wings," said Lt. Col. Dave Kimpel, 141 ARW safety officer. "As a wing we did a good job staying safe considering the extreme temperatures."
"Although we will not have the extreme weather like we did in January, we need to make sure that we continue to effectively communicate safety issues during shift changes," said Lt. Col. Kimpel. "Operational Risk Mediation will be an item of interest during the ORI."
The legacy of an evaluation of excellence from the last Operational Readiness Inspection in April 2006 will be the challenge for the airmen of the 141 ARW to uphold for the upcoming ORI.
Chief Master Sgt. Tim Flock, 141 ARW Deployed Forces Command Chief, and Chief Master Sgt. Dan Wells, 92 ARW Deployed Forces Command Chief, interviewed by Senior Airman Kali Gradishar, 92 ARW Public Affairs, about their roles in the recent exercise. (Photo by Senior Airman Joshua Chapman, 92 ARW Public Affairs)