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442d Fighter Wing demonstrates readiness during Exercise Ozark Thunder 21-01

Two Airmen smile and pose for the camera in front of an A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft.

An A-10 Thunderbolt II with the 442d Fighter Wing lands at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. June 8, 2021, during Exercise Ozark Thunder 21-01. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kristin Cerri)

An Airman in chemical protective gear walks toward an A-10 Thunderbolt II, while another Airman drags a fuel hose toward it.

Members from the 442s Logistics Readiness Squadron work with crew chiefs from the 442d Maintenance Group to refuel the A-10 Thunderbolt II during Exercise Ozark Thunder 21-01, June 8, 2021, on Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kristin Cerri)

An Airman serves food on a paper tray in a field kitchen.

The 442d Force Support Squadron manages a Single Pallet Expeditionary Kitchen during Exercise Ozark Thunder 21-01, June 6 through 8, 2021, on Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. The SPEK maintained 24-hour operations throughout the exercise making enough food to feed approximately 200 members per meal. The SPEK offered members breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a midnight meal. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kristin Cerri)

An Airman wears a gas mask.

Airmen from the 442d Fighter Wing attend Ability to Survive and Operate (ATSO) training in anticipation for the readiness exercise, Ozark Thunder 21-01 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. A team from the 919th Special Operations Wing led this training, June 5, 2021.

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --

Airmen from the 442d Fighter Wing participated in Exercise Ozark Thunder 21-01. In anticipation of the exercise, Saturday, June 5, 2021, began with a “Road to War” brief. The brief provided members with information about the simulated incoming threats so they may prepare their units. Members also received Ability to Survive and Operate (ATSO) training led by Airmen from the 919th Special Operations Wing who traveled from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida to assist with the exercise.

The three-day exercise officially began Sunday, June 6. Airmen operated as if they were in a deployed environment. To assist with the simulation of a deployed environment, Airmen were required to have their chemical and biological protective gear accessible at all times.

During the exercise, Airmen faced challenges through various simulated scenarios. Members received notification of different alarm conditions through the Air Force’s mass notification system, chain of command, and through the giant voice system on base.

Airmen were evaluated on their ability perform mission essential tasks, accountability procedures, post-attack reconnaissance sweeps, and self-aid buddy care in various levels of chemical gear.

Members of the Inspector General’s office and safety office for the 442 FW observed the exercise to monitor how well the Airmen reacted to the scenarios. Additionally, subject matter experts from the different units formed the Wing Inspection Team to determine the strengths and weakness of their respective units during the exercise.

Senior Master Sgt. Sarah Bower, the superintendent for the 442 FW IG office, was one of the individuals who worked behind the scenes during the exercise.

“[The exercise required] Airmen to conduct their daily tasks, but to do so even when wearing protective chemical ensembles,” said Bower.

“The use and wear of [Mission-Oriented Protective Posture] gear has been noted by Headquarters Air Force IG as a special interest item, meaning it’s important to the Air Force that all its airmen have the ‘Ability to Survive and Operate’ in a chemically degraded environment,” explained Bower. “We have to be able to complete our mission even if aggressors have the capability to launch chemical or biological weapons.”

The main purpose of this exercise was to demonstrate readiness and capabilities in a variety of contested environments.

“If the wing’s airmen know more about how to don MOPP gear, respond to air and ground attacks, and continue mission essential tasks throughout the duration of an attack, that is success in our book,” said Bower. “We also want unit commanders to feel that they have proven their readiness capabilities.”

The exercise served as a learning opportunity for the entire 442 FW and it helped achieve the wing’s mission statement: Citizen Airmen ready to Attack, Defend, Support, and Sustain.