Reserve unit kicks up flying training scenarios

  • Published
  • By Maj. Ashley Walker
  • 913th Airlift Group

The 913th Airlift Group conducted full-spectrum readiness flying sorties, involving scenarios that required various combat airlift capabilities that could be used in current and future military responses, Oct. 5-6, 2019, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas.

The robust and detailed training scenario allowed aircrew and air transportation specialists to operate in austere conditions, simulating enemies with an array of capabilities. Due to evolving combatant command requirements, the Air Force Reserves has increased focus on units operating effectively in degraded environments.

Air Force Reserve Maj. Steven Freeman, 913th Operations Support Squadron Chief of Weapons & Tactics, designed, planned and directed the drill weekend training objectives, incorporating dirt landing zones, unfamiliar routes with simulated threats, and special airdrop certifications to a new drop zone—all while operating in a communication and GPS contested environment to push the group’s members beyond their normal training.

“Our warfighters and allies depend on our combat airlift capabilities,” said Freeman. “Through this type of training we hone our skills, ensuring we continue to provide airland, airdrop, and aeromedical evacuation in the harshest environments against current and future threats.”

Creating an in-depth training scenario provides an opportunity to coordinate with other units and agencies to solve the scenario.

“It is a force development opportunity to build combat-ready Airmen,” said Freeman. “In order to be effective as a Reservist, we have to be interchangeable and interoperable with all of our active duty counterparts. To achieve this, we have to continuously challenge our unit to build upon tactics so that our capabilities and confidence strengthen. This applies to every person and unit throughout the group.”

Airmen from the 96th Aerial Port Squadron, 913th AG, supported the event by loading and unloading cargo during the scenario at both Little Rock Air Force Base and Cole Landing Zone, a small dirt strip which the C-130s operated in-and-out of throughout the weekend to simulate an austere location in a contingency environment. The focus of their training involved a unique unloading technique known as the combat offload method-B, requiring the use of barrels instead of a forklift to carefully unload heavy cargo.

“We have a mix of experience in our unit, so we used this opportunity to test our younger Airmen,” said Senior Master Sgt. Brad Womack, 96th APS Superintendent. “Loading and unloading cargo on a dirt landing strip with multiple aircraft is challenging and includes some careful planning. So this training is invaluable as stakes increase when deployed.”

The group consists of 80 percent of traditional reservists, using the one weekend a month, two weeks a year to train. Training scenarios, such as the one conducted, maximize the resources available to accomplish as much readiness requirements as possible.