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124th Airmen participate in Advanced Ready Training, strengthening ACE

  • Published
  • By Maj. Bonnie Blakely
  • 124th Fighter Wing

BOISE, ID -- Thirty-three Airmen from the 124th Fighter Wing, Idaho Air National Guard, participated in an Advanced Ready Training exercise March 4-8 at Gowen Field.

This ART featured hands-on classroom instruction and field-practical events, culminating with a field training exercise, enhancing their skills as Mission Ready Airmen.

ART is designed to develop MRA by creating an expeditionary and agile mindset. It trains Airmen beyond their primary job specialties, allowing them to defend themselves and accomplish additional tasks in support of agile operations in challenging combat environments.

“We need to train as we fight,” said Chief Master Sgt. Sean Williams, 124FW Agile Combat Employment Program Lead. “The deployed environment should not be the first time these teams are exposed to these new demands.”

This all falls under the umbrella of the Air Force’s bigger goal of Agile Combat Employment, a proactive and reactive operational scheme of maneuver executed with threat timelines to increase survivability while generating combat power.

“The ACE concept will put our Airmen in situations that they may not have experienced yet in their military careers” Williams said. “The real value of the training was the change in mindset to combine all of these combat skills at a higher proficiency level for a full spectrum of execution.”

Three teams participated in the training, comprising members from multiple squadrons and various Air Force Specialty Codes. Each team has Airmen from the 124th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Maintenance Squadron, Logistics Readiness Squadron, Security Forces Squadron, and Communications Flight. The various specialties within each team enable combat support to aviation force elements and the required skills to operate independently in austere conditions, Williams said.

The primary objective was to complete 12 of the 20 required blocks of instruction in order to become certified as a Mission Generation Force Element Team. An additional goal of the training was for the teams of mixed AFSCs to start operating as a cohesive unit.

Soldiers from the Idaho Army National Guard’s 204th Regional Training Institute, located on Gowen Field, were chosen to instruct the Airmen based on their extensive experiences in combat tasks and being professional instructors. The 204th RTI is the National Guard’s premier school for ground maneuver warfare, maintenance education and leadership development.
“With the RTI experts on base, it was a great resource and advantage to utilize them,” said Master Sgt. Keven Swenson, and A-10 crew chief with the 124th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “I feel our unit has a leg up on other units with this training we received.”

Training included basic communications, weapons sustainment, explosive hazards, countermeasures for improvised explosive devices, self-protection fundamentals, mission planning, and troop leading procedures.

“The expertise on vehicle operations, small team tactics, as well as information on working in an austere environment was eye opening and brought into perspective what the ACE concept is about,” Swenson said.

Some of the tasks, like weapons familiarization, were designed to be refresher training and enhance current skill sets.

“Other tasks were new concepts that will give the teams the ability to execute missions independently, when they may not have all the combat support that we are accustomed to at large air bases,” Williams said.

The Airmen also learned about mounted vehicle operations, tactical combat casualty care, defensive fighting positions, tactical movement fundamentals, and entry control points.

“This training was a huge success,” Williams said. “All of our goals were achieved, and the teams are on schedule to be certified. This training prepared them to be a premier force element that our Wing can offer to the Air Force.”