ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Airmen from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, and Air Force Reserve Command headquarters teamed with U.S. Army jumpmasters May 11 for a joint readiness exercise here.
Crew members from Charleston’s 315th Airlift Wing made the 40-minute flight in a C-17 to Robins to link up with HQ AFRC staff members and the jumpmasters.
“Within the A3 (AFRC’s Air, Space and Information Operations Directorate), we are focusing on accelerating readiness,” said Col. Mark Villacis, chief of the directorate’s Mobility Operations Division. “Are we ready for the Joint Force and for that combatant commander who is actually out there executing what our national leaders are asking us to do?”
Villacis said the exercise was an opportunity for headquarters workers to keep in touch with their roots – the Citizen Airmen at Reserve units who execute the mission.
“We were able to integrate Army and Air Force jumpers and our line crew members from the 315th Airlift Wing to continue to strengthen our joint-enabling capabilities, which are movement and maneuver,” Villacis said, adding that the exercise allowed participants to perform some of the tasks they would need to do in a joint environment.
“They were able to do airdrop checklists,” he said. “They were able to drop PJ (pararescue jumper) and SERE (survival, evasion, resistance and escape) specialists, along with some Army brethren over the drop zone here at Robins.”
Whether loadmasters, pilots, SERE specialists or PJs, all Air Force and Army personnel must stay current with their training.
“(This exercise) gave us the opportunity to work with the Air Force a little more than we usually would and get current as jumpmasters and regular free fallers,” said Army Sgt. Sean Priser, unit training noncommissioned officer in charge of the 421st Quartermaster Company out of Fort Valley, Georgia.
The joint exercise also provided instructors and evaluators at the headquarters level the opportunity to maintain their currency, so they can continue to train their units.
“We all get to come together and learn from one another,” said Master Sgt. Tiffany Zaloudek, HQ AFRC’s SERE specialist and program manager. “You can’t go wrong with a day like that.”
Lt. Col. Raymond Bradshaw, HQ AFRC’s Combat Rescue Officer functional manager, is no stranger to joint operations.
“We’ve always dominated the air,” Bradshaw said. “But the future fight is going to demand that we be on the periphery of a highly contested environment and in that environment. These parachuting techniques are going to allow us to refine those skills, and the training that we accomplished with our Army brothers and sisters is absolutely essential.”
In addition to refining their tactics, techniques and procedures, the Reservists involved in the exercise were able to strengthen their ties with the Army.
“It’s outstanding to build these relationships with them,” Bradshaw said. “That’s who we are going to be working with when we go after the future fight.”