Operation Dust Storm
By Master Sgt. Kristian Carter, 433rd Airlift Wing
/ Published February 06, 2019
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- Operation Dust Storm blew into Martindale Army Air Field, Texas, Feb. 1, mixing together Reservists, active duty Airmen, Soldiers and local doctors to accomplish a complex medical and air delivery mission.
The 433rd Airlift Wing’s aerial porters, defenders, and medical personnel joined the 502nd Air Base Wing defenders for the training. The helicopters were supplied by the Texas Army National Guard. The doctors were from the San Antonio Military Medical Center.
This total-force training exercise was designed to provide real-life training to all parties.
“For JBSA, it may very well be the most complex airborne mission in recent memory” said Col. Kjäll Gopaul, Air Education and Training Command, who coordinated the event.
The exercise simulated litter and casualty transfers, cargo loading of equipment, personnel and vehicles with live aircraft.
“Ground teams trained to conduct their aviation-related tasks in a focused manner and not be distracted by the newness or disorientation of operating with military aircraft,” said Gopaul.
The events involved loading and unloading patients, equipment and vehicles from an Army airfield to an Air Force drop zone and back using a CH-47 Chinook helicopter and a UH-60 Blackhawk. Ground teams were in place at both locations to exercise the infiltrate and exfiltration procedures.
“For the aircrews, we increase the realism of training by providing train-as-we-fight ground teams,” Gopaul said.
Air transportation Airmen worked as ground crew building and rigging pallets to be transported by the helicopters.
“I’ve learned teamwork is essential, especially when it comes to these types of exercises,” said Staff Sgt. Raul Romero, 26th Aerial Port Squadron.
For the medics, the exercise gave them real-world aerial evacuation experience in a joint environment.
“This what we do in a deployed environment,” said Army Maj. Allyson Cochet, San Antonio Military Medical Center gastroenterologist. “Learning how to move (service members) quickly to the level of care they need is critical. That’s how we save them if they need care quickly.”