Field exercise promotes cooperation between military branches

  • Published
  • By Steve Larson
  • Kansas Adjutant General's Department

SALINA, KS -- The defense of our nation is often a cooperative effort among its military branches. To fight together, however, requires training together.

That’s just what members of the Kansas Air National Guard’s 184th Security Forces Squadron accomplished June 1-2 in cooperation with active-duty Airmen from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team and Kansas Army National Guard Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation MEDEVAC unit. The training, conducted at the
Kansas Training Center and Smoky Hill Air National Guard Range at Salina, resulted from a reorganization directive to Air Force security forces by General C.Q. Brown, Air Force chief of staff. Thirty-two initiatives were developed with a principal goal of refocusing away from law enforcement and security duties and returning to the core competencies of air base ground

“These competencies are a return to tactics learned and honed during the conflicts in jungles of Southeast Asia during the 1960s and 1970s,” said Col. Joe A. Dessenberger, commander of the 184th Mission Support Group, Kansas Air National Guard. “Some of our seasoned leaders who trained in similar tactics before the War on Terror are familiar enough to forge ahead with more intense training.”

Dessenberger said the field training exercise was aimed at tying together those concepts and off-station training into an event that would teach Airmen to work as a team in a stressful environment. Prior to the field exercise, participants engaged in a skills training day that included land navigation, 9-line casualty reporting, medevac aeromedical transport, recognition of unexploded ordnance, stun grenades, smoke grenades, and other tasks. The field exercise included opposition forces and role players to simulate both aggressors and civil interaction.

“What we’ve been doing leading up to this event is training at home station, preparing the Airmen for air base defense skills that they may need in a contingency location if that were to occur,” said Senior Master Sgt. Dale Brooks, 184th SFS.

“This is basically a process to allow us to test and evaluate our training back home,” Brooks
said. “We take that after-action report and determine what we did well, what we can improve on, resources we may need to help us get there, what future additional training we might want to acquire to prepare us for that future near-peer threat using that Defender Next model.”

In their job, the Security Forces Airmen train for a variety of scenarios which may occur at a moment’s notice, day or night.

“We’re out here training for any type of mission we might have,” said Tech. Sgt. John Morphis, 184th SFS. “Today, we woke up at three in the morning. We had to get ready within a certain amount of time, get mounted up, get our warning order and then we started the day at four o’clock and stepped to our mission. “This morning we had to go to a mock village at Crisis City,” he explained. “We had to clear the area, make sure there were no enemy threats and set up a FOB (Forward Operating Base).”

As a joint training operation, the 184th Airmen relied on their brethren in the active-duty Air Force to safely clear the way as they moved into the village.

“We were imbedded with the 184th Security Forces for most of the duration of the field training exercise,” said Senior Airman Skylar Ackley, 22nd ARW Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team. “Mostly, we moved and communicated with 184th Security Forces Squadron during convoy operations and dismounted patrol operations. Sometimes we would act independently when an explosive scenario kicked off."

"Our mission was to assist the security elements in support of explosive hazards,” said Senior Airman Andrew Lillard, 22nd ARW, “whether that be standard military ordnance or improvised devices during all areas of operations."

“During the exercise, our EOD team both located and rendered safe all devices,” explained Staff Sgt. Kaanen Brabbs, 22nd ARW. “It is common for Security Forces personnel to identify threats or trends associated with IEDs. From then, EOD will respond and return the scene back to

Brabbs said the team was responsible for safely deactivating all explosive devices encountered during the exercise, devices created and placed by other members of the EOD cadre.

“They were hand built by our Training and Quality Assurance sections here at the EOD shop,” said Brabbs. “Each device had a unique way that it functioned, whether that be victim operated or by remote. For example, most devices were pressure plates or activated via radio,
key fob or cell phone. Most of the devices were attached to a penalty similar to a loud alarm or a monitored system."

The Security Forces also relied on the Kansas Army Guard to supply other skills and assets they lacked.

“One of the things they reached out to the Army side was to conduct aeromedical evacuation training in the event they run into a situation which requires one of their Airmen to be transported for a medical emergency,” said Maj. Clarence “CJ” Schreiber, commander, Company G, 1 st Battalion, 111th Aviation (MEDEVAC). “Their mission set, the Security Forces,
as far as what they’re looking for, what they’re training for, absolutely dovetails right into a lot of the operations that the Army Guard side has, as well.

“Especially on the aeromedical evacuation side -- responding to unknown scenarios for my air crews, being able to provide that next level of training -- it makes it interesting. It makes it
relevant and challenging for our service members on the Army side and also for the Air side.”

“Our range partners at both the Kansas Training Center and Smoky Hill Air National Guard Range were critical to the success of the event,” said Dessenberger. “Their cooperation allowed us to use a large footprint on either side of the range complex and bed down at the training site. All three joint partners were able to accomplish significant blocks of training that are required each year to both grow individuals in their respective career fields and provide documented events for readiness reporting upward to the Department of Defense.”

Schreiber hopes such joint training opportunities will become a regular event in the Kansas National Guard. “This is something we want to capitalize on and build more toward,” said Schreiber. “Collectively within medevac, we call this Medevac 101. What we want to develop and offer to units across the Kansas Guard, both Army and Air, and cross service for others and ourselves is a follow-on, a Med 201, a Med 301 where we can really get into more opportunities where everyone benefits, keeps everybody involved.”

“We worked very well with the whole squadron,” said Lillard. “The Guard came motivated and ready to work.”

That opinion was shared by Lillard’s fellow team members.

“It was very enjoyable and offered a lot of experience,” said Ackley. “We were able to work closely with a unit that we have never met before and succeed. Overall, the exercise surpassed our expectations with the Army medevac team and the Security Forces squadron as a whole. We would absolutely love to see more of these types of exercises. There are a lot of moving parts, but it really puts things into perspective and shows what could realistically happen when different agencies are thrown together."

“If any other unit is interested in this kind of opportunity, the Army side, the Air side, reach out to us,” said Schreiber. “Joint training is something we should capitalize on. It’s something we can always do. The little bit of planning and coordination can really make a realistic event for all our Soldiers and Airmen. This is what people signed up to do. We’re here, we’ve got to do the training, so let’s do it.”