913 AG participates in first readiness exercise

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jeff Walston
  • 913th Airlift Group
The 913th Airlift Group, Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, completed the Group’s first readiness exercise, Prime Horizon, since its activation in 2014. The four-day exercise, from June 1-4, 2017, evaluated the Group’s ability to move assets between two locations in preparation for real world deployments or missions. Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, was used as the forward location during the exercise, since the 403rd Reserve Wing supports C-130J aircraft and could assist in the event of mechanical issues during the exercise.

Prime Horizon required the Group’s six squadrons to perform as one force. The 327th Airlift Squadron, 96th Aerial Port Squadron, 913th Force Support Squadron, 913th Maintenance Squadron, 913th Operations Support Squadron and 913th Aerospace Medical Squadron have worked and trained unilaterally or in conjunction with one or two squadrons, but never have all six squadrons worked together to complete a deployment mission from inception to conclusion.

“It was a benefit to work with the only other unit that has J-models,” said U.S. Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. Scott Lawson, chief of safety for the 913th Airlift Group, and mission commander for the exercise. “But, even more important for us to develop internal cohesion since each squadron has different tasks and responsibilities, but each is vital to the overall success of the mission.”

Cargo and passengers were loaded and unloaded at both locations, and a tail swap was conducted. A tail swap is an unanticipated change of aircraft that demonstrates the ability of the Airmen to respond to rapid mission revisions.

“This exercise allowed me to get the best on-hands view of the deployment process,” said Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Lawson, an air transportation journeyman, 96 APS. “There is always something to overcome to achieve the mission. That’s why training is so important. I will take this knowledge back to my co-workers and improve our overall training from the experiences this exercise has provided.”

During the exercise, 913 AG Airmen at Keesler were given unscripted injects testing their knowledge and inspecting their abilities to solve certain scenarios they might encounter during a real world deployment. Injects included unexpected passengers, medical injuries, such as broken bones and dehydration, and unplanned media interviews.

“Prime Horizon gave our new members context on how they fit into the unit, and the unit into the Group,” said Col. Thomas Guerra, inspector general, 913th AG. “We have to give the young Airmen training and experience so they know that when they do their job, it affects other people doing theirs. It’s about integration. Generally speaking, we met the objective fairly well.”

“Inspections are not evaluations. It’s not an operation to be afraid of, it’s where we learn,” said Col. Christopher Lay, the 913 AG commander. “Our folks are excited to do the job, and I’m considerably pleased with what they’ve accomplished.”

With the first exercise finished, 913 AG Airmen are already focusing on becoming combat certified. The knowledge and experience from Prime Horizon will provide invaluable information needed by the entire Group to accomplish that goal.