DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. --
Thirty days and 2,000 people.
Those were the numbers hanging over the heads of the 307th Force Support Squadron services flight during a Silver Flag exercise at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia from May 7-14.
Instructors at the Force Support Silver Flag site trained FSS members to move into a bare deployed environment where no infrastructure exists and build a base for a ready fighting force. The scenario charged them with preparing for a surge of 2,000 troops in 30 days while working in a contested area of operations.
The 307th FSS teamed up with other services flights from across the U.S. to accomplish the mission, which added realism to the exercise, said Master Sgt. Neosha Benson, 307th FSS services flight noncommissioned officer in charge.
“We had a good blend of active-duty and reserve members here,” she said. “It’s like what would happen when you deploy, so that was an added benefit.”
FSS members must attend a Silver Flag exercise at least once every three years. While there, members spend the first few days setting up infrastructure and organizing logistics to effectively run lodging, personnel contingency operations, dining facility, and mortuary affairs requirements.
“We start from scratch,” said Staff Sgt. Jessica Roque, 307th FSS services attendant. “We are in a deployed environment from the minute we get here, even though logistical needs have to be researched and budgets created.”
But even the best plans can be laid to waste once the field training exercise, or FTX, starts. It’s during the FTX that all the planning efforts are applied, but changes to the scenario force Airmen to think on their feet.
Tech. Sgt. Matthew Abston, 307th FSS services attendant recalled one scenario at a previous Silver Flag where he and a team had laid out all the necessary plans to lodge and account for everyone on base. But the instructors had other ideas, hitting the students with a training scenario that threw everything into chaos.
“When the FTX started, they blew up our two planned contingency sites, so we had to start completely over, all while accounting for wounded troops,” he said.
Benson, Abston, and Roque have all attended at least four Silver Flag exercises each, but each said the training remains relevant and unique every time, thanks to the Silver Flag cadre at Dobbins ARB who create a dynamic environment.
“You learn to expect the unexpected,” said Abston. “It gets easier, but it never gets easy because no two days are the same.”
Airmen who experience Silver Flag for the first time have a lot to digest, but the training and hard work were worth it said Senior Airman Alivia Walker, 307th FSS services attendant and a first-time participant.
“This was valuable training because I feel more prepared for a deployment,” she said. “It allowed me to do hands-on learning, which is what I prefer.”