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Airmen Go Off Grid for Terror Threat Training

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Amy Rangel,
  • 169th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

EASTOVER, S.C. - Air National Guard units from South Carolina, Alabama, the District of Columbia and Tennessee participated in Emergency Management Battlefield Expeditionary Response training, also known as Fox EMBER, May 2-7.

The 21 Airmen conducted training at a specially constructed mock village at the McCrady Training Center to simulate an austere overseas location.

The 169th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Emergency Management flight designed the training to get Airmen off the grid and into an unrestrictive environment. The training replicates real-world scenarios involving chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear events that Airmen may experience in a deployed location.

South Carolina Air National Guard personnel with emergency management, medical, bioenvironmental, security and weapons of mass destruction specialties trained together for six days.

Although the SCANG develops and maintains the required CBRN specialties at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, the training location at McCrady offers greater possibilities, according to U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Jamie Powell, installation emergency manager assigned to the 169th Civil Engineer Squadron and Fox EMBER exercise lead.

“Our mission has changed, and McCrady’s got the facilities we need. We have all this cool equipment, and we get to take it out there,” Powell said.

The day before the exercise at McCrady, the Fox EMBER participants reported to McEntire JNGB to receive a refresher course on CBRN detection equipment and procedures from U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ja’maal Mosely, a weapons of mass destruction instructor assigned to the South Carolina National Guard’s 43rd Civil Support Team.

To get the fully deployed experience, the Airmen stayed at McCrady’s barracks throughout the exercise to simulate deployment conditions.

“Everything we are doing here is set up to be done downrange overseas,” Powell said. “All these things can also be used domestically if we have to support the civil support team in a response.”

Although the Airmen were briefed about the simulated threats leading up to the exercise, the instructors left some information out to maintain the element of surprise.

Participants examined homemade laboratories used to make explosive devices and biological weapons. They also encountered a makeshift tunnel and a vehicle that contained suspected terror threats.

The instructors observed and graded the participants’ responses while providing real-time guidance.

Three teams of Airmen used clues left in each location by the exercise adversary, a site map, and their instincts to guide them through the course.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Angelica Gonzalez, emergency management specialist assigned to the 169th Civil Engineer Squadron, explained the advantages of getting off base for this larger-scale training.

“Back at our workshop, we usually test the equipment and practice, but we don’t have real-life things or simulations we can test,” she said. “So, coming out here and putting on the MOPP [Mission Oriented Protective Posture] gear with all these other outside factors such as environmental noises changes how you can handle these types of equipment.” 

Powell said the participating Airmen came away with invaluable training experience, equipping them for actual deployments.