BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. --
Members of the 104th Fighter Wing participated in a Phase II exercise Nov. 1 to 4, 2018, at Barnes Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts.
The exercise enhanced combat readiness and gave Airmen the opportunity to demonstrate life-saving skills while completing their normal missions in a simulated contested environment.
“One of the things the Chief of Staff of the Air Force said to all the wing commanders at a conference in August was that we need to increase our overall readiness training,” said Col. Peter T. Green III, 104th FW commander. “This is one of the ways we here at the 104th Fighter Wing will be doing that.”
Airmen could be seen wearing Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear with gas masks and rubber boots while performing their job duties on base over the four days. They were inspected and trained by the Wing Inspection Team on how well they quickly and safely donned the gear and followed Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear operations procedure.
Lieutenant Col. John Desarro, 104th FW inspector general, said the overall goal for the exercise was to inform the commander and leadership of the capabilities of their units. They do this with a three step method, he said.
“We independently evaluate,” said Desarro. “We try to be as objective as we can about the actual observation, and then we motivate and educate after that.”
Desarro said he and the Wing Inspection Team write a plan, train to that plan, and inspect that plan during the exercise. They make scenarios as realistic as possible so that they can observe actual behaviors, he said.
Major Jeremy Dugan, 104th Civil Engineering Squadron commander, worked as the Emergency Operations Center director during the four-day exercise, and said scenarios included things such as missile and mortar attacks, fires, vehicle accidents and the presence of potentially dangerous chemicals.
“The secretary of defense said his number one priority is mission readiness,” said Dugan. “Being able to conduct our mission in a contested and degraded environment is important for alignment with the national defense strategy.”
Performing work in the protective gear may have been challenging for Airmen at first, but Airman 1st Class Bella DiLorenzo, 104th Maintenance Group avionics flight line technician, said she became more comfortable with doing it over the course of the exercise. “I think I really just have to stay calm while I’m in MOPP gear and just take my time,” said DiLorenzo. “I’m also very new so it takes me even a little bit longer to grasp the fact that I have a little bit less control of my hands with the gloves on.”
Green said readiness training is a priority for the 104th FW and all members were focused on getting the most out of the four-day readiness exercise.
“It’s one of the primary things we need to do,” said Green. “The combatant commanders expect us to be ready to go and we here at the 104th Fighter Wing are always ready to go. It’s just another way for us to train to make sure that’s the case.”