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ATSO University teaches hands-on skills

Refresher course prepares Airmen for fly-away exercise

Staff Sgt. Allison Cismowski, center, 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron, reassembles an M-16 during the weapons familiarization portion of “Ability to Survive and Operate” training May 1 at McChord Field. /U.S. Air Force photo

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With McChord Field's operational readiness exercise just days away, the 627th Air Base Group provided Airmen an opportunity to practice their "Ability to Survive and Operate" skills April 30 through May 2.

According to Tech. Sgt. Troyann Ernle, 627th Civil Engineer Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of emergency management, there were 390 participants during the ATSO University.

"Most of the individuals who will be participating in the upcoming ORE were able to attend," said Ernle. "Most of them are primary players but we were able to include some alternates as well."

Airmen spent the first half of the day rotating between eight different stations of ATSO University. Each station included a briefing by a subject matter expert from the respective career field.

"We've got security forces providing weapons, logistic readiness providing training supplies and the Army even helped out by lending some equipment," said Master Sgt. Justin Malan, 627th CES emergency management superintendent. "We were able to recruit Airmen from all different squadrons and career fields so the most accurate information can be relayed."

During the wing plans and programs station, Capt. Brain Dodson, 62nd AW chief of exercises and evaluations, delivered a slideshow briefing to explain the meaning and importance behind an ORE.

"One of the notable points of feedback we received from the February mobility exercise was that people didn't understand the intent," said Dodson. "Our goal for the next one is to provide more knowledge as to why exercises are important. Also, we want to clearly define the expectations and let Airmen know what to expect."

While rotating between stations, Airmen discussed several ATSO topics including self-aid and buddy care, weapons familiarization and force protection conditions.

"This training is much more hands-on and hopefully more impactful than taking an online training course," said Ernle. "We are covering a wide range of topics. This way, we can detect our mistakes during the training portion and fix them for future exercises."

Airman 1st Class Dustin Davis, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief and alternate player in the upcoming ORE, said the ATSO University training was a great refresher.

"We've basically been taught this stuff before, but this is a good memory jogger," said Davis. "I've learned about the chemical decontamination process, but I've never actually seen it demonstrated before today. So that was a big help."

Following the morning of ATSO stations, the 627th CES conducted a mini mobility exercise, which tested the knowledge Airmen had just received.

"They learned all about ATSO this morning, and now we'll get to observe them applying what they've retained," said Ernle. "This mobility exercise gives them an idea of what to expect during the actual operational readiness inspection."

Airmen from McChord Field are expected to depart later this week to conduct ORE training at Volk Field, Wis.

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