Airmen hone skills during mobility exercise

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Whitney Taylor
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing and 627th Air Base Group had the opportunity to showcase full-spectrum readiness while honing their ability to deliver innovative rapid global mobility during an exercise, Nov. 28 through Dec. 4 here.

The mobility exercise tested the deployment capability of multiple squadrons with tasks including processing Airmen through a personnel deployment function line, cargo upload in preparation for combat airlift, and performing operational duties while in Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear.

“Between Nov. 28 and Nov. 30, personnel tagged for [simulated] deployment processed one of the six deployment lines at the Deployment Control Center which operated day and night during this timeframe,” said Julie Jones, 62nd AW Office of the Inspector General exercise director.

“Cargo was processed by units around the clock, and transported to the [62nd] Aerial Port Squadron for inspection and loading on one of the seven flights associated with the exercise,” Jones continued. “Maintenance operations for three local sorties, Nov. 28 – 29 were also part of the exercise.”

To make a high-speed operation that much more challenging, the exercise also evaluated ability to survive and operate in a chemical environment. This required Airmen to don protective gear, as they would in a real-world scenario during which a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive threat was suspected.

“Aircrew wore their aircrew eye and respiratory protection systems to the [flight] simulators,” Jones explained. “[62nd Operations Support Squadron] aircrew flight equipment conducted a training class for aircrew to practice wearing their ground crew ensemble, and both the 62nd AW and 627th ABG had ATSO days for all exercise deployers to practice skills.”

The added bulk of MOPP gear can reduce dexterity and restrict field of vision which amplifies scenario complexity. The exercise called for Airmen to execute task-based skills in MOPP gear as well as demonstrate knowledge of how to survive in a contaminated environment including conducting post-attack reconnaissance sweeps, drinking from canteens while wearing a gas mask, and inspecting masks.

“This exercise was part of the crawl, walk, run approach to exercising,” Jones said. “Airmen are not used to wearing MOPP gear and this exercise provided the perfect opportunity for young Airmen to gain confidence wearing the gear and performing normal job functions.”

According to 1st Lt. Sarah Buhler, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron Air Terminal Operations Center flight commander, Airmen were able to adapt and execute the mission.

“They were all able to complete their assigned tasks with almost no issues at all,” Buhler explained.

ATSO was not the only portion of the exercise during which Airmen expanded their comfort zones and gained valuable experience.

“The deployment line gave Airmen a realistic picture of what they might be asked to do in the future, and helped to prepare them mentally should the need arise for a mass, short-notice deployment from McChord Field,” Jones said. “Additionally, the 62nd AW and 627th ABG worked hand-in-hand for this exercise and showed that we operate as a cohesive unit.”

Over the course of the mobility exercise, Airmen were evaluated on their initial response to taskings, unit readiness, cargo and personnel deployment functions, unit deployment manager procedures, crisis action team and control centers, as well as ATSO.

“The ability to mobilize a large group of Airmen on short notice was exercised and improved upon,” Jones said. “This directly correlates to mission readiness on base. If we are not able to get deployers, cargo, aircraft and aircrew out the door and to the fight, then we are not mission-ready.”

With the responsibility to provide combat airlift and a high-octane force ever-present in the minds of Team McChord leadership, the mobility exercise will certainly not be the last Airmen undergo here.

"We are continually finding ways to evolve and improve our practices to ensure we remain the best at what we do," said Col. Reba Sonkiss, 62nd AW commander. "This exercise was designed to test readiness and challenge our adaptability. While there is always room for advancement, Team McChord Airmen demonstrated that not only are we ready today, we are prepared for tomorrow.”