Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

May 4, 2012 at 5:19pm

McChord Airmen leave Saturday for fly-away exercise

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Airmen from the 446th and 62nd Airlift Wings, along with the 627th Air Base Group, will depart Saturday for the field of battle. Exactly where that is remains to be seen as McChord Field Airmen set off on its first fly-away operational readiness exercise this year.

A second fly-away ORE is scheduled for September as active and Reserve Airmen prepare for the operational readiness inspection set for October.

More than 300 Reserve wing personnel from various squadrons will travel on C-17 Globemaster IIIs to the deployed location where they will establish 24-hour operations to simulate being in a combat zone.

"There are several reasons these MOBEXs are valuable," Lt. Col. Ray Luevanos said. Luevanos is 446th Mission Support Group deputy commander and chief of exercise evaluation teams.

"First, it allows us to get away from the everyday distractions of home station. For the most part we can minimize the impact of ‘normal' work stressors like email and phone calls when we leave McChord and allow our ORI team players to focus on the mission at hand," Luevanos said.

"Second, it allows us to test processes that are difficult to assess when we simulate them during home station exercises. Fully processing cargo and passengers allows us the opportunity to see where we can hone our skills and improve upon our processes and planning factors, especially when we remove ourselves from the conveniences of home station amenities.

"Finally, it allows us to immerse our leadership and players into more realistic scenarios. Hearing a bird cannon or a ground burst simulator go off in tandem with a smoke grenade helps instill a sense of urgency when we're doing our best to simulate conditions in a wartime environment," he said.

During the exercise, Airmen were responsible for performing their jobs as well as having required items and gear readily available to use in a moment's notice. Some of the mandatory items include: a gas mask, protective chemical suit and an Airman's Manual.

Each functional specialty will be examined and graded during the ORI in October. Luevanos said the flyaway exercises will afford Airmen the opportunity to preview the Contingency Readiness Training Centers where they may actually experience the ORI. It'll allows them to practice on the very same field that they may have to play the "big game" on.

"The main focus should be on their primary job. The purpose of an ORI is to test the wing's ability to perform its operational mission during a contingency operation. Each one of us doing our jobs keeps that mission going," Luevanos said.

Being familiar with the Airman's Manual, Luevanos said, will help Airmen to continue to do their jobs by being able to mitigate threats, injuries, and other challenges Airmen are likely to encounter in the exercise.

"Keep the big picture in mind (moving the mission) and don't be afraid to make mistakes; now is the time to learn from those mistakes and make adjustments prior to the October ORI," Luevanos said.

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