319 LRS, Air Guard units partner for multi-capable Airmen exercise

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Dakota C. LeGrand
  • 319th Reconnaissance Wing

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. - The 319th Logistics Readiness Squadron held a training exercise on Oct. 16 and Oct. 18, 2021, to enhance squadron readiness. 

The two-part exercise employed the Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept, which focuses on growing multi-capable Airmen that can accomplish tasks outside of their career field and in austere environments. 

“The way we fight and deploy is changing,” said 2nd Lt. Kayla Beede, 319 LRS installation deployment manager. “One day our Airmen may have to set up a base in a new area rather than use one that is already established, so it is important that we build multi-capable Airmen that have the skills to not just fuel a plane, but pull items from shelves, load pallets, and more.”

The 319 LRS partnered with Minnesota and Montana Air National Guard units to conduct joint training with the C-130 Hercules; a unique opportunity that familiarized Airmen with working on manned aircraft unlike their normal duties supporting the 319th Reconnaissance Wing’s unmanned RQ-4 Global Hawk mission. 

“Imagine it’s the first time you see a large gray tail and you’re expected to already know how to refuel and load cargo onto it. Or even worse, the first time you see one is when you’re flying into a combat zone,” said Maj. David Geaney, 319 LRS director of operations. “These exercises help us to grow Airmen with the skills and experience they will need when they go downrange.”

For the first portion of the exercise, the 133rd Airlift Wing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, landed a C-130 on Grand Forks AFB, where Airmen fueled the aircraft and practiced loading and unloading cargo. The C-130 was then flown to Minneapolis, where a ground transportation team loaded the cargo onto a trailer and transported it back to base. 

Three days later, the 120th Airlift Wing from Great Falls, Montana, provided another C-130 for Airmen to conduct cargo upload and download training. This time, the 319 LRS was able to send passengers on the aircraft to simulate a deployment.

Airmen from various sections in the 319 LRS were tasked with short notice ‘deployments’, where they were led through a pre-deployment function line to prepare for going downrange and ensure they had the necessary supplies and documents. Afterwards, they flew in the C-130 to Great Falls before being driven back by another ground transportation team.

“I really want to thank the Minnesota and Montana Air National Guard for providing such incredible training opportunities for our Airmen,” said Geaney. “We look forward to collaborating with our total force partners in the future as we develop realistic exercises that will prepare our Airmen for the high end fight.”

Grand Forks AFB’s unique weather-based challenges make it an ideal location for future exercises, including arctic training, which Col. Timothy Curry, 319 RW commander, states he would love to host in the future.

“Grand Forks AFB is excited to be on the leading edge of ACE implementation and this exercise helped to pave the way for additional training opportunities,” said Col Curry. “We plan to continue implementing the ACE concept throughout our wing to ensure we are prepared to compete, deter and win in a conflict against our pacing threats.”