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Wings leave McChord to prepare for inspection

Fly-away exercise helps focus on deployed mission

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(446th AW PA) - Airmen from the 446th and 62nd Airlift Wings, and the 627th Air Base Group, departed May 5 for the field of battle. Exactly where they were headed is known only to Team McChord, as it 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 traveled on C-17 Globemasters to the deployed location, where they established 24-hour operations to simulate being in a combat zone.

"There are several reasons these MOBEXs are valuable," said Lt. Col. Ray Luevanos, 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 e-mail 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 are 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. The flyaway exercises afford the wings the opportunity to preview the Contingency Readiness Training Centers where they may actually experience the ORI.

Being familiar with the Airman's Manual, says Luevanos, 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.

Photo: Airman 1st Class Nicolas Mercado, 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron, issues a mobility bag to Master Sgt. Dwayne Williams, 446th Force Support Squadron. Both active duty and Reserve Airmen processed through a deployment line for a Team McChord fly-away operational readiness exercise May 6 at the base. /Staff Sgt. Rachael Garneau

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