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New York Guard Airmen participate in annual training

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Barbara Olney
  • 174th Attack Wing

SYRACUSE, NY -- One hundred and twenty Airmen with the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Attack Wing and eight Airmen with the 107th Attack Wing spent four days establishing and defending a forward operating site in a wooded section of Hancock Field Air National Guard Base as part of their annual training, from August 6 to 9.

The members of the wing’s Mission Support Group spent the four-day annual training period setting up living and operating areas, preparing for potential simulated chemical attacks, and fighting off simulated enemy probes of their perimeter.

“I have been in the Guard 16 years, and we have never done anything like this, said Master Sgt. Nick Detota, a member of the 174th Communication Squadron.” “The extent of this exercise was a complete 180 to what we had done in the past.”

The goal, according to Lt. Col. Jason Taylor, deputy commander of the 174th Mission Support Group, was to execute the tasks necessary to set up an austere base, or forward operating site, or FOS for short, from scratch.

“In this scenario the forward operating site was simulating an MQ-9 launch and recovery and refuel location,” he explained.

“It’s our attempt to be able to go to a foreign country and set-up a Forward Operating Site (FOS) and be able to function in a contested environment," Taylor said. “From the main operating base there would be several FOSs to help disperse capabilities amongst different locations.”

The first step was to establish a Reception Control Center that allowed Airmen to process into their deployed location. The Airmen were then organized into teams to set up tents, communications, latrines and showers, a mobile kitchen, and other necessities to establish a FOS.

The Airmen participated in simulated real-world scenarios that they could encounter in a combat zone. 

“This kind of realistic training was great," said Airman First Class David Johnson.

“We have been practicing putting on our gear, setting up tents, and to make sure we can build a bare base from nothing to a whole encampment” Johnson said, “It has been a good experience and helped prepare us if a situation arises.”

All Airmen also had to wear their Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) gear, designed to provide protection in case of a simulated chemical or biological attack.

During the exercise, alarms were sounded that specified that a simulated attack, or incident, was underway and what type. These ranged from perimeter breaches, or protestors at the gate, to biological and chemical agent attacks.

“We did everything out here. We slept out here and we ate MRE’s for the meals out here. It’s really been the true experience," said Staff Sgt. Paige Blakeman, a member of the 174th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

“The MSG folks worked hard together as one team, had high morale, and demonstrated the ability to effectively establish and defend a forward operating site,” said Col. Michael Adamitis, the 174th Mission Support Group commander.

"Most Air Guard units don’t conduct this type of training," said Col Chuck Hutson, the wing vice commander. "The training plan was “unprecedented amongst our Air National Guard base peers...and the training worked."

"And the training worked," he added. “You can feel the excitement these Airmen have practicing support operations amidst a contested, degraded environment."