WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
“Opinion only- it’s our number one training asset. Our A-10 pilots use it every day and it provides an opportunity for units like our Civil Engineer Squadron to go down and have a place to train in a way they can’t at Whiteman.”
In order to advance combat readiness, it was important to get a large group of Reserve Citizen Airmen in an environment where they could practice their combat mission, said Col. David Kurle, the commander of the 442d Mission Support Group at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.
Multiple squadrons within the 442 MSG participated in readiness training for the September UTA.
The 442d Civil Engineer Squadron and the services flight, one third of the 442d Force Support Squadron, participated in a ground based exercise at Cannon Range, on Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Separately, the Security Forces Squadron participated in training at Camp Clark, a National Guard facility near Nevada, Missouri.
The exercise at Cannon Range focused on aligning the 442d Fighter Wing’s three main priorities into training: advance combat readiness, develop exceptional airmen, and advance innovation.
“You don’t just develop exceptional Airmen by training to a certain skill level. You have to develop an Airmen in the whole person concept, which includes their combat skills,”said Kurle.
Airmen with the CES were split into two teams, Wilma and Fred, in order to add a little competition to training. The teams each participated in various tasks such as building defensive fighting positions, practicing their CBRN operations, building field latrines, and practicing basic survival skills like self-aid and buddy care.
“The training is important to work on our readiness and adaptability,” said Senior Airman Jaclyn Flores, a water and fuels systems Airman in the 442 CES. “In training like this, you definitely get in what you put out.”
Not only was the 442 CES able to train, but also they also were able to work on projects that improved the facility and safety at the Range, said Master Sgt. Craig Coppenbarger, a Senior Air Reserve Technician in the 442 CES. Airmen helped replace water systems, participated in range clearance, and fixed up the fuel containment area, amongst other projects.
While the CES practiced their combat mission, Airmen in the services flight had their own mission to work on. The Airmen set up a Single Pallet Expeditionary kitchen to feed everyone, while also practicing their CBRN operations and search-and-recovery skills.
“We’re introducing Airmen to a combat environment and developing the leaders’ command and control skills as part of the objectives of the exercise,” said Kurle.
The exercise was meant to evaluate the wing’s ability to survive and operate in a combat environment with conventional and chemical/biological threats. Wing inspection teams helped evaluate the exercise and note any deficiencies while members of the 442d Inspector General and 10th Air Force staff worked as the Exercise Control Group to administer the exercise.
“Exercise is a good way to flush out the deficiencies because we’re in a learning environment. The takeaway is that we’re going to learn from our mistakes and improve,” said Kurle.