Travis Air Force Base, Calif. --
Citizen Airmen from the 349th Air Mobility Wing took part in a Patriot Wyvern exercise here Feb. 10 – 12.
Patriot Wyvern, held twice a year, brings together organizations across the unit for the common purpose of ensuring mission-ready Citizen Airmen for worldwide contingency operations. Over the course of the unit training assembly weekend, Airmen received training and were evaluated on both core Air Force Specialty Code skills and general readiness capabilities.
The training exercise was designed to meet objectives of the Air Force Inspection System. This most recent exercise was built around the requirement for an annual readiness assessment. Scenarios were developed that included chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats; ability to survive and operate skills; as well as deployment and re-deployment operations.
“What we like about Patriot Wyvern is that it brings all these organizations together,” said Maj. Sarah Forte, 349th AMW director of inspections. “It incorporates the whole spectrum and cross-talk between organizations. We see what skills and capabilities we bring to the fight when everyone is working together.”
A portion of Patriot Wyvern saw the 349th Medical Group working with the 349th Operations Group to receive and treat simulated aeromedical evacuation patients suspected of biological contamination.
“This exercise gave medical group personnel the opportunity to expand on the mission of preparing for infectious disease management and control,” said Master Sgt. John Mackenzie, 349th Aeromedical Staging Squadron member and medical group facilitator for this exercise. “We’ve never had the opportunity before to coordinate and train with every agency involved in the management process. It allowed all the participants to see each component and how it all comes together."
Mackenzie said the cross-coordination and bigger picture view added tremendous value to these exercises.
“We all have our own cogs we are responsible for, and where those cogs touch there can be ambiguity,” he said. “The more we practice together, the more those ambiguities are smoothed out. If we continue to do that, by the time we have to do this for real, we will be ready.”
The cross-talk and coordination wasn’t limited to units within the 349th AMW. Aerial porters had the opportunity to work with Army Reserve members from the 1349th Transportation Brigade and the 374th Engineer Company. The aerial porters trained on joint inspections of outsized cargo brought in by the Army, and practiced loading and unloading equipment from both the C-5M Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster III.
While aerial porters and aircrews practiced those core tasks specific to their career fields, Airmen from the 349th Mission Support Group honed their readiness skills in a variety of training events, beginning with processing for a mock-deployment. Airmen were bussed to a simulated deployed environment where they were briefed by the Personnel Support for Contingency Operations team. The participating Airmen then were split into groups and received hands-on training in areas such as land navigation, mounted operations, dismounted operations, escalation of force and building defensive fighting positions.
“We had no idea what to expect coming in to this training, but it was a lot of fun,” said Staff Sgt. Cheyne Baumgart, 349th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter. “Everything we did today was outside of our regular realm. We ended up re-learning some concepts from basic training and learning new things."
“Everybody had a good time,” Baumgart added. “The big take-away this weekend was that communication is key. Every situation we were in required lots of communication, and often with people we don’t normally work with.”
Planning for Patriot Wyvern begans about six months in advance because of all the units invloved. Point of contacts from each group came together to determine general training objectives and begin the cross-talk between organizations. Members of the wing inspection team then joined the planning process and provided specific scenarios to meet training objectives.
“Execution is only as good as the planning,” said Tech. Sgt. Taron Collins, 349th Force Support Squadron wing inspection team member. “Planning is 50 percent of it, and execution is the other 50 percent."
Regardless of the amount of planning that goes into each Patriot Wyvern, challenges arose in the execution.
“The challenge always is coordination – getting everything coordinated and communicated with everyone,” said Forte. “We embrace some of those issues because that’s what happens in the real world. So, anytime we have some of those stumbles and people have to work through it, that’s just that many fewer injects that we need to provide to the scenario.”
While there may have been challenges this time, many participants said the training was valuable and that they had a good time.
“In customer service, we can spend most of our typical training weekends in the office,” said Staff Sgt. Angel Rosario, 349th FSS customer service representative. “This was a different scope than what our daily jobs entail. This training was about being ready; readiness for deployments and mobilizations. Everyone seemed to learn a lot of enjoy it.”
“It’s great to get outside, get re-engaged and refocused on what we’re doing in the Reserve – that combat portion of our jobs – and key in on that,” Forte echoed. “We’re testing those skills and making sure we’re ready.”