Black Knights execute fly-away field training exercise

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Maria Umanzor Guzman
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 19th Airlift Wing executed a fly-away field training exercise to enhance their readiness capabilities and improve their skills in a simulated deployed environment at Ebbing Air National Guard Base and Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, July 24-28, 2023.

Airmen assigned to the 19th Civil Engineer Squadron, 19th Maintenance Squadron, 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron, 19th Force Support Squadron, 19th Medical Group and the 19th Operations Group each conducted training of their own specialties in preparation for real-world contingencies.

The 19th OG provided airlift to and from Ebbing ANGB and Fort Chaffee to provide an overall realistic training experience for the Airmen.

The 19th LRS were critical to executing the movement of equipment and personnel throughout the exercise. During the week, they tested their planning skills in transportation and supply operations, passenger processing, and uploading and downloading equipment as well as personnel. 

The 19th FSS skillfully provided food support by increasing proficiency on field feeding using the Single Pallet Expeditionary Kitchen. The 19th FSS also conducted training on contingency lodging; field fitness; morale, welfare, and recreation activities; search and recovery operations; and forklift training.

Throughout the week, the 19th MXS also tested their aircraft damage repair capabilities and were able to hone in on their skills in a technical order to ensure a damaged aircraft is suitable for flight in a timely manner.

Additionally, the crash damage and disabled aircraft recovery team was able to practice their procedures when conducting a bag lift on a damaged C-130J aircraft.

With instruction from the 188th CES, the 19th CES practiced the Rapid Airfield Damage Recovery concept to bolster and maintain base defensive readiness and strengthen response capabilities.

“The idea of the RADR concept is to quickly and efficiently repair a runway that was attacked so that aircraft can land and take off in no time,” said Capt. James Robinson, 19th CES engineering flight deputy. “You have an entire team of different crafts in the 19th CES coming together to ensure the runway is able to be used again to sustain the mission.”

During the field training, Airmen were able to perform construction techniques of their specific crafts during the process of repairing a runway, all while utilizing materials unavailable to them at their home station.

Airmen also completed tasks outside of their specialty, fulfilling the multi-capable Airman concept, all while being challenged in a realistic and safe, bare-base environment.

“We have our electricians driving forklifts and our engineering assistants are driving telehandlers, which is not something they are normally trained for,” said Robinson. “This is why we came out here … to practice those skills so that whenever that training is needed in a situation, we are able to accomplish the mission.”

During the field training, one of the key takeaways for Airmen was prioritization of teamwork and communication.

“Overall, my experience in this field training has been enjoyable and very beneficial,” said Senior Airman Garrett Paris, 19th CES pavements and heavy equipment operator. “Teamwork and communication have been a crucial part in executing this exercise and you get to learn new things every day.”

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Airmen from the 19th CES in partnership with EOD Airmen from the 355th CES at Davis Monthan AFB, Arizona, also participated in the field training exercise at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. The Airmen executed the EOD Warfighter Diamond State Exercise, which consisted of practicing the full spectrum of EOD operations in different types of terrain. Given the extreme heat and intensity of EOD’s training, the 19th MDG supported with an on-scene medic.

“Not only are we going through scenarios that involve terrorist’s improvised [explosive] devices, but we are also going over the procedures with state-sponsored ordnance items, runway clearances, and first-found ordnances, which can be both physically and mentally demanding,” said Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Burke, 19th CES EOD flight chief. “We are really testing our team members' abilities to be mentally fatigued while still maintaining their cognitive skills and be able to sustain their focus once they arrive on target.”

Burke said that EOD Airmen were also able to practice one of their core tasks: irregular warfare. Airmen tested their ability to integrate with an infantry unit or a special forces team to perform direct action-type missions.

“The objectives of these scenarios revolve around the Indo-Pacific Command theater,” said Burke. “We want them to get a realistic view of ordnance items and potential threats while also looking for opportunities to grow their leadership skills in very stressful situations they may face in a future war.”

According to Staff Sgt. Jacob Morello, 19th CES EOD technician, in the EOD community, the Airmen heavily rely on each other when enduring through the tough challenges they face during training. Trust and reliance play an important factor in forming that camaraderie within the group.

This six-part exercise helped increase the 19th AW’s capability to fight at a moment’s notice against future adversaries.