104th Fighter Wing trains, builds confidence
By Airman 1st Class Sara Kolinski, 104th Fighter Wing
/ Published November 04, 2019
WESTFIELD, Mass. -- The Massachusetts Air National Guard's 104th Fighter Wing participated in a four-day readiness exercise and inspection Oct. 31 to Nov. 3 at Barnes Air National Guard Base.
During the exercise, Airmen did their respective jobs wearing Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear while inspection teams verified that everyone, from junior enlisted to officer, knew how to put on and take off their MOPP gear properly.
The MOPP gear includes a jacket, pants, rubber gloves and boots and a gas mask to protect Airmen in case of a chemical, biological, radioactive or nuclear attack.
“We have to be comfortable at doing our jobs in a contested environment,” said Col. Peter T. Green III, 104 FW commander. “If the enemy can slow us down by throwing chemical or biological agents at us, we need to be able to counter that by saying, ‘Yes, but I have the protective gear to be able to continue to do my job.’”
The exercise was aimed at meeting yearly inspection objectives while making sure Airmen received training that aligns with Green’s priorities for mission readiness. Those priorities include individual fitness, medical readiness and training.
Each squadron or flight trained to be comfortable if they have to deploy where CBRN attacks are a threat, said Green.
Airman Basic Josh Tekpeh, a new Airman with the Logistics Readiness Squadron, said the training was very different than what he did during Basic Military Training. Certain concepts were reinforced, but others, such as the importance of accountability and looking out for other Airmen, were stressed for the first time, he said.
“You learn that you have to keep your wingman safe,” said Tekpeh.
The readiness exercise helped Airmen build confidence not only in their gear but also in each other, which helps to strengthen the wing, said Green.
“I need the individuals in the organization to be individually responsible for doing their job to the best of their ability,” said Green. “That’s how we succeed as a wing. The success of this wing is not because we have the planes or the buildings; it’s because of the people.”