AVON PARK AIR FORCE RANGE, Fla. --
The 920th Rescue Wing tested its collaborative abilities to provide wing Airmen with a unique training exercise that challenged their capabilities to operate outside of their comfort zones here last month.
Representatives from each unit within the wing participated and played a crucial role in the FTX success. The objective was to showcase the effectiveness of the 920th RQW to execute agile basing and complete a full-mission spectrum at a moment’s notice at any location around the world.
More than 100 Airmen were mobilized to a bare-base site which simulated a deployed environment. Unlike previous real world deployments the wing has been a part of, in this scenario-based training the forces were expected to be self-sustaining and use as much organic equipment and resources as possible while working as a team to complete the mission.
“The objective was to deploy, sustain, employ and recover forces while validating tactics and techniques that are a part of our standard operating procedures,” the deputy lead for the operations planning team said. “This was an exercise to garner lessons learned, to see where our shortfalls are before we undertake the primary exercise in August.”
Planning started in October 2020 when an operations planning team was established. The team was charged with outlining and working through the logistics while keeping in line with the wing commander’s priorities. They pinpointed areas of opportunity for the units and worked to build learning objectives.
The Mission Support Group took lead in the on-the-ground set up and execution. Running water, portal latrines and the site location had to be coordinated and established days prior to support the incoming Airmen. They also took on the role of supplying the Bivy Snugpack, a one-man tent given to each member as their sleeping arrangements and shelter for the weekend.
“This is not a scenario we are typically equipped to support. By focusing on a different type of mission, it demonstrated capabilities which were lacking or needed to be filled. The wing worked together to combine organic assets and outsourced only when absolutely necessary,” the operations team lead for the MSG said. “I look forward to testing different size exercise packages to be more agile. We can adjust the MSG footprint to be heavier or lighter depending on the mission requirement.”
The 920th Force Support Squadron also had a large part in the event. Their primary role was to set up a SPEK; a Single Pallet Expeditionary kitchen to supply meals throughout the training weekend. This is a skill requirement, however it is not one that is regularly, if ever, utilized. FSS members were able to feed the 100+ Airmen with two hot and one pre-packaged meal per day.
Using this exercise opportunity to hone various skill sets, the 920th Security Forces Squadron set up multiple instruction stations. Practicing the correct placement of concertina wire, a military-style razor wire, and sandbags as defense postures to minimize threats, were among some of the proficiencies the SFS was expected to perform.
“This was a dress rehearsal for a more detailed exercise coming up and we executed it with no major hiccups, it was an absolute success,” the operations planning team deputy said.
In addition to the training taking place on the ground, the 39th, 301st and 308th Rescue Squadrons, conducted training sorties. The 920th Maintenance Group kept the aircrafts in flying condition, allowing the aircrew to successfully complete two full combat search and rescue mission scenarios integrated within the exercise.
All of the units and squadrons worked together using their unique skills and strengths to achieve the shared goal of learning a new way to accomplish the mission. Through team work and communication the exercise highlighted areas of proficiency as well as opportunity for future improvements.