DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. —
Airmen assigned to the 94th Airlift Wing participated in a base-wide readiness exercise at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. from Sept. 19-25, 2022.
The purpose of readiness exercise United Force 22-01 was to simulate a deployed environment. Airman readiness was tested in a variety of scenarios reflecting the wing’s ability to mobilize quickly and effectively to provide strategic air operations capabilities.
Various squadrons performed several exercise simulations, called injects, throughout the week. As teams responded to the injects, members from the Wing Inspection Team observed to see how the Airmen responded. United Force 22-01 was split into four phases: pre-deployment, deployment, sustainment and redeployment.
“The players need to be tested in some shape or form,” said Tech. Sgt. Brandon Duke, the 94th Airlift Wing Inspection Team program manager. “Those injects present them the opportunity to test Desired Learning Objectives to see if they meet the requirements.”
At the start of the exercise, Airmen practiced out-processing from Dobbins and in-processing at the simulated deployment location, codenamed “Blue Land.” Both functions were facilitated by the 94th Force Support Squadron (FSS).
“For training purposes, members get familiarized with how you process when you’re going on an actual deployment,” said Tech. Sgt. Shawnyse Turner, the Personnel Deployment Function line chief from the 94th FSS.
During the remaining half of the exercise, many injects required Airmen to don Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) gear throughout the exercise. MOPP gear is designed to protect the wearer from harm caused by chemical, biological or other hazardous agents. A set of MOPP gear typically consists of a protective mask, over boots, two sets of gloves and a hooded overgarment. As new scenarios were introduced, Airmen practiced donning and doffing gear appropriate to the MOPP level announced.
The 94th Security Forces Squadron (SFS) was primarily assigned to the gate at Silver Flag, which housed the Logistics Readiness Squadron, Communication Squadron, FSS’s Mortuary Affairs team and others.
The 94th SFS practiced setting up a bare base, said Master Sgt. Derrick Stokes, a flight chief from the 94th SFS. Security Forces served as gate guards for the bare base in “Blue Land.” Many of their injects were in response to threats from the exercise’s adversary, “Red Land.”
“This is good for the young Airmen that have never been on deployment,” Stokes said. “This is good exercise and practice.”
Many participants of the exercise have not been deployed before. By running through possible scenarios, they gain familiarity on how to perform their job when deployed to an unfamiliar environment.
“When I get deployed, I want to make sure my job is still the same on other nations’ territory,” said Senior Airman Tariq Wiggins, a member from the 94th SFS who served as a gate guard for the simulated bare base.
Additional injects that the 94th SFS was tested on included an active shooter, sniper attack and suicide bombing scenarios.
In previous years, most of the exercise was centered at Silver Flag, but this year’s exercise had scenarios occur at an assortment of locations, including Hangar 5, where members of the 94th Maintenance (MXS) and 94th Aircraft Maintenance Squadrons (AMXS) practiced deployment injects while preparing their MOPP gear.
“We’re going to practice doing work in our chem gear, making sure we know all the MOPP levels,” said Staff Sgt. Ashleigh Pratt, a crew chief from the 94th AMXS. “A lot of people haven’t been deployed before, so we’re checking our overall readiness. I think it’s going to prepare me greatly for the MOPP levels. As many times as I go through the training, as time goes by, I always forget what you put on during certain MOPP levels. It’s always good to have a refresher.”
Additional scenarios practiced by MXS and AMXS included plane-catching, inspections and refueling.
The last time the 94th Airlift Wing conducted an exercise was in 2018, said Duke. Readiness exercises are an annual requirement, but they were pushed back due to delays caused by COVID-19.
This year’s exercise had a few major differences from the 2018 exercise. One major change was the testing of the split-MOPP system, where squadrons wore varying levels of MOPP gear depending on their location. Squadrons were dispersed into different exercise play areas based on function, including Silver Flag near the track, the dead runway and Hangar 5.
“One of the goals of the readiness exercise was to test the split-MOPP,” Duke said. “The base is divided up into sectors and if you’re on the north side of the base, you may not be affected by that chemical whereas on the south side of the base, you would be. You have different MOPP levels based on those different areas.”
Airmen were graded and coached on ways to improve their efforts in the exercise at its conclusion.
As a result of the exercise, the 94th Airlift Wing was able to understand best practices within the many units as well as understanding where processes and training fell short. By highlighting deficiencies in a controlled exercise environment, the wing is better equipped to address issues and ensure success in real-world operations.