Contingency Response Forces conduct multi-agency training

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Carzis,
  • 146 Airlift Wing Public Affairs, California Air National Guard

FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. – The sun hasn’t risen yet as U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeff Allen of the 146th Contingency Response Flight wipes the ice from the windshield of his government 4x4 truck. He reaches into the back of the truck for his backpack filled with the gear he’ll need for a readiness exercise hosted by the 621st Contingency Response Wing (621 CRW) Inspector General (IG) office.

For weeks, Allen and the commander of the 146 CRF, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Todd Morgan, coordinated with the 621 CRW IG office on the training mission in conjunction with an evaluation exercise across the spectrum of multiple Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and active-duty components.

Joining C-17 aircraft from Travis Air Force Base, C-130 aircraft from the 115th Airlift Squadron, and the 152nd Airlift Wing provided training pallets for exercise players to unload during the evaluation and airdrops using sandbags over the dirt runway. 

“We wanted to make the scenario realistic, so we got multiple Guard, Reserve, and active-duty wings to participate,“ Allen said. “We are delighted we got the logistical part across the finish line and provide everyone involved with something beneficial.”

Allen grabs his large handheld radio and protective equipment and walks down into a valley where multiple tents are staged inside a forest clearing with coastal mountains in the distance.

Between all this lies an ample dirt runway filled with multiple Contingency Response Force Elements ground operations from the 621 CRW.

Allen, a loadmaster with the 115 AS, sorts through his gear. Helping him prepare for the day is Tech. Sgt. Joseph Ontiveros, a loadmaster with the 146CRF.

Allen and Ontiveros establish airdrop markers for the aircraft to start their approach to land on the dirt field alongside the CRF teams, which evaluated the dirt airfield and set up landing zones earlier in the week.

They exchange techniques, discuss best practices and troubleshoot gear when the first airdrop appears. The C-130J looks tiny in the deep blue sky above the trees. Allen and Ontiveros look through their specialty binoculars and confirm it’s the first C-130 drop of the day.

Soon, the C-130 piloted by Morgan lands on the runway. Numerous crews begin unloading and offloading the aircraft, checking necessary pre-deployment training, and demonstrating the ability to perform in a contested environment for the evaluation.

Airlift operations continue all day and the sun sets behind the central coast mountains. Aircraft land in pitch darkness to continue their air and runway operations under the cloak of night. 

As the first day of the exercise winds down for the 146 CR teams, Allen begins to pack his equipment into his truck while Morgan heads home on the last C-130J traveling back to the Channel Islands Air National Guard Station.

Allen gets back in his truck, visibly exhausted, and calls one of his team members to provide an end-of-day report. During the conversation, Allen expresses gratitude for having a background as a loadmaster.

Allen believes his aircrew experience has helped him adapt to his new role in the 146 CRF and thinks it could help develop aircrew looking to broaden their perspective and enhance the CR career field.

“Being a loadmaster has helped me transition into this career field and bring both perspectives into my decision making. When I am out on a mission for the CR, I still think of how aircrew would respond to what we’re providing for them and try to find the halfway point that makes life easier for us both. I think more aircrew should get some experience with CR and see how they could grow themselves and the career field,” he said.