CHARLESTON, W.Va. - More than 400 members of the 130th Airlift Wing conducted a weeklong Fly Away Readiness Exercise at the Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport, Mississippi.
FLARE is a commander-directed readiness exercise demonstrating units’ ability to deploy using the Agile Combat Employment model. ACE is a way of projecting air power that shifts operations from centralized, often vulnerable infrastructures to smaller-footprint, dispersed locations to increase force survivability and provide more options to joint force commanders for power projection.
FLARE 2023 was the unit’s first large-scale flyaway exercise since converting to the C-130J model. In 2020, the 130th Airlift Wing was selected by the U.S. Air Force to receive eight C-130J-30 Super Hercules aircraft and transition aircrew, maintenance and support personnel from the 1990s era H3-model to the new J-model.
“This is our first opportunity to demonstrate our readiness level as a wing since we converted to the J-model,” said Col. Bryan Preece, commander of the 130th Airlift Wing. “This exercise is essential to our readiness, and we look forward to seeing the results. Our unit motto — ‘Ready To Go!’ — is the perfect sentiment to live by as we prepare for the future fight.”
The unit received hands-on experience in command and control, nuclear, chemical, biological and radiological response, and tactical combat casualty care.
The exercise increases unit readiness physically and mentally by testing Airmen’s understanding of wartime principles against a simulated near-peer adversary.
“This is something that we’ve been planning for over two years now by having monthly exercises at the wing doing practical drills, individual training and the CBRN defense course, and it’s really helped us prepare for something like this,” said Senior Master Sgt. Philip Meeks. “As the Emergency Operations Center manager, I couldn’t be happier or prouder of the way that we were able to operate during this exercise.”
The exercise was conducted in a simulated deployed austere environment, allowing for a more realistic training experience for the Airmen. The exercise results will inform commanders of their unit’s ability to generate, employ, and sustain combat capability in the future.