Airmen tested during base Phase II exercise

HURLBURT FLD, Fla. -- With mission-oriented protective posture gear on, more than 400 Airmen reported to the Permanent Exercise Facility and the flight line Jan. 17 for a Phase II employment exercise that continued through Jan. 19.

The purpose of the exercise was to prepare for real-world attacks and to use information in the Airman’s Manual in order to “survive and operate.”

“This exercise gives me the opportunity to better prepare for the ORI by refreshing material learned in basic military training, to include MOPP levels and crisis responses,” said Staff Sgt. Jeff Beaver, 16th Logistics Readiness Squadron logistics planner.

The 16th Special Operations Wing Inspector General’s Office scenario included three days of chemical attacks, conventional attacks and simulated targeting.
Throughout, participants remained in varying MOPP levels.

Col. Tim Minish, 16th Operations Group deputy commander, served as the exercise deployed commander.

“We’re learning a lot, but we’re still in the crawl phase,” Colonel Minish said.
Although the base is still in the beginning stages of training for the ORI, many agree the exercise has been beneficial in training for the real thing.

“It’s the fear of the unknown that gets to me,” said Staff Sgt. Holly Hotchkiss, 16th Special Operations Wing Command Post controller. “Otherwise, my role in the exercise was quite similar to what I do on a day-to-day basis in the command post, controlling the Giant Voice, sending out situational rep-orts and operational reports when needed.”

As for the powerhouse players of the exercise, the 16th Communications Squadron had the PEF powered up with 50 phone line drops and 150 e-mail accounts established for all participants by the first day of the exercise, said 2nd Lt. Caleb Lisenbee, 16th CS plans.

“Communications personnel came in the weekend prior to the exercise to set up,” Lieutenant Lisenbee said. “All we had to do the first day was generate profiles for the accounts and maintain communications. Now that we have a basic idea of the number of phone drops and e-mail accounts to create, we can cut down on preparation time for the next exercise.”

For the aircraft mission planners, the exercise rehearsed everyday tasks at an expedited rate.

“The planners had to react quickly to get the job done, all the while, being exposed to emerging mission delays, real-world delays and last-minute changes, and having only the basic equipment available,” said Maj. Mike Sierco, 16th SOW Plans and Programs special missions planner and overseer of the operations planning cell of the exercise.

The exercise environment provided some unique training opportunities for Airmen to test their career knowledge and ability to react in the midst of wartime scenarios.

“I’ve learned a lot as far as responding, staying calm and referring to self aid buddy care training while wearing MOPP 4 gear and being in the midst of (simulated) aerial attacks,” said Senior Airman Gregory Harris, 16th Security Forces Squadron.