104th hones skills during base-wide Readiness Exercise
By Master Sgt. Lindsey Watson, 104th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 05, 2021
BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. --
The 104th Fighter Wing conducted 24-hour operations during a Readiness Exercise held June 10 - 13, 2021 at Barnes Air National Guard Base.
The REX is designed to give Airmen the chance to set aside their daily tasks and hone the skills that will enable them to excel in a contested and degraded environment. Airmen worked 12-hour shifts to conduct 24-hour operations and test their systems and processes, as well as their responses to scenario injects by the 104FW Inspector General office.
“This exercise was unique in that the wing IG really focused on a wide variety of threat behavior,” said Col. William ‘Sling’ Bladen, 104FW Commander. “We simulated insider threats, mortars, snipers, aircraft battle damage, active shooters, aerial recon, power outages, and reduction of our command and control means, and yes, chemicals weapons.”
This training is critical to ensuring that Airmen are ready to respond to the mission at a moment’s notice. As an Air National Guard unit the 104FW could be called on by the Nation’s President to respond to a federal mission, or by the Massachusetts Governor to respond to a state mission and support domestic operations at moment’s notice.
“In order to win in combat, our Airmen need to be able to defend the base, save their buddy’s life, communicate what they see, perform their AFSC, and critically think when conditions dictate,” said Bladen. “This was a phenomenal training opportunity for all of that as the book answer can never substitute for common sense and a propensity to act. I’m particularly proud of our Airmen who had the courage to make decisions in the moment without direction. They were the ones who won the day.”
Airmen from across the base spent time performing their job while wearing body armor, the different levels of Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear, and other job specific gear. This included the crew chiefs and maintenance teams launching and catching our F-15Cs and the pilots flying them.
“Readiness is and has been the number one priority in the 131st Fighter Squadron,” said Lt. Col. Michael ‘Shot’ Glass, 131st Fighter Squadron Commander. “This exercise, and the training we accomplished, allowed us to validate the tactics and procedures we would use during contingency operations. We are very grateful to have a community that is so supportive of our mission.”
Coordinating such a large scale training exercise requires support from every agency and team on base. The planning effort was led by the IG office and Wing Inspection Team members, who all strove to make the event as realistic and challenging as possible for the Barnestormers participating.
“We gathered all stakeholders and executed a wing-wide training event,” said Richard Tudisco, 104IG Superintendent. “The overall feedback from Wing Inspection Team members was that the coordinated wing execution was better than expected and the wing is on the right path.”
The success of the 104FW daily operations, deployments, and training exercises rely not only on members, but also the support of their family, friends, and community.
“I want to personally thank all of our family members,” said Bladen. “I know that this 24-hour, 3 day exercise put a lot of strain on the families, especially with the unusual show times. I very much appreciate them doing what they always do, keeping “real life” moving along, supporting our members, and ultimately supporting our nation’s ability to conduct combat operations.”