D.C. Airmen participate in New Orleans flying exercise
By Senior Airman Erica Rodriguez, 113th Wing
/ Published January 28, 2016
NAVAL AIR STATION-JOINT RESERVE BASE, La -- More than 200 Airmen from the 113th Wing, D.C. Air National Guard teamed up with the Air Force Reserve and a local ANG unit to partake in Exercise Sentry Voodoo 2016, Jan 15-29.
The multi-aircraft exercise brings together fighter jets, F-15s and F-16s, and refueling aircraft, the KC-135, from the 459th Air Refueling Wing, Joint Base Andrews, Md., and the 159th Fighter Wing, Louisiana ANG based in Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base, La., to engage in multiple war-fighting scenarios.
"We have three goals for this exercise: to provide a quality training environment for our pilots and maintainers in preparation for our (DCANG) deployment later this year; to provide domestic operations training for our Wing and 113th Mission Support Group members; and to have a fun time and build camaraderie," said Lt. Col. Michael Oliver, 113th deployed detachment commander.
The combined training allows the multiple units to learn from each other in various skillsets and career fields. The training and relationships developed will better prepare the 113th WG for the busy upcoming year including Exercise Sovereign Guardian, a unit deployment and support of the 2017 Presidential Inauguration.
"The relationships that we have developed and will continue to foster with JRB New Orleans, the 159th Fighter Wing and 459th ARW have been vital to the success of this exercise," said Oliver. "From billeting, to food service, familiarization flights, aerial refueling support, and unit-to-unit information sharing and training opportunities, the support we have received has been nothing short of stellar. Each of our Airmen will come home better trained and prepared for the busy calendar year ahead."
Although the exercise was primarily focused on pilot training, aircraft maintenance and other aviation related career fields, supporting units also welcomed opportunities for major training such as communications.
The 113th Communications Flight successfully issued more than 20 land mobile radios, 10 laptops and maintained network connectivity to more than 35 computers for both the 113 WG and the 459th ARW. The 113th CF worked alongside Louisiana's159th CF, consolidating resources and allowing for collaboration on beast practices.
The 263rd Combat Communications Squadron trained the 113th CF on a new communications Joint Incident Site Communications Capability unit type code that provides a wired and wireless Local Area Network, IP phones, Video Teleconferencing and VHF/UHF/HF radio communications.
Other units were also able to experience higher paced work while becoming accustomed to work away from their home base. The 113th Aircrew Flight Equipment section worked alongside the 159th FW AFE to accomplish their mission, including preparing pilots' equipment prior to flights and helping familiarization flight participants. During the exercise, members had the opportunity to be nominated for familiarization flights to experience what F-16 pilots undergo during flights, along with becoming more familiar with the equipment and aircraft.
"This is a great opportunity for us to be able to get into a higher tempo of things," said Master Sgt. Steve Johnson, deployed 113th AFE NCO in-charge. "Back at home station, of course, everything is very well planned but during these exercises you have to be ready for sudden weather changes or any operations changes. It gives us more experience with hands-on equipment and job training versus back at home where you have more auxiliary training."
The mission proved to be successful in providing training, team building and positive moral.
"I have seen firsthand the Capital Guardian pride that each of our Airmen bring to their jobs," said Oliver. "It has been an absolute pleasure to lead such a fine group of men and women during this exercise. We are more than ready to tackle the challenges of a busy 2016."