Vance Air Force Base, Okla.

  • Published
  • By Maj Steve Yarbrough
  • 71st Flying Training Wing
"Why do we exercise for real world contingencies? Vance (Air Force Base) is just a training base."
What does "real world" actually mean? If a house was on fire with a family inside, how comforting to the family would it be to have the fire department show up and use the home as a place to practice their procedures? The family would be out of its mind.
The fire department is counted upon to be a group of professionals ready to perform. It is no different here. Nothing is more important than being able to apply knowledge and training within a given scenario. In light of the base receiving an overall marginal during our last exercise, here are some ways Team Vance can better prepare itself for the unexpected.
The audience at the last exercise outbrief was asked, "Why are we here at Vance (AFB)?" Most everything accomplished day to day on this base supports producing and protecting pilots for our Air Force, Navy and Marine Corp. Many base agencies don't deal directly with this task but they would not exist unless a training base had been established in Enid, Okla. Whether working in the military personnel flight producing orders, in the clinic as a medical technician taking care of dependents, in the chapel helping to strengthen the pillar of faith or for DynCorp in any of the vast services they provide, people directly contribute in helping our government achieve its political objectives.
How? Vance's mission of producing pilots for the needs of our government is no small task. It takes a concerted effort by an array of agencies to make it happen. We exercise to ensure processes and procedures on the books and in checklists are adequate to achieve our mission. More importantly, we exercise to evaluate knowledge and response actions to given scenarios. How we respond to threats and how we protect our base populace are extremely important in the big picture of placing pilots on the pointy end of our government's spear.
"These exercises are a very important part of our training," said Ron Diener, Vance AFB fire chief. "They can uncover mistakes we can then correct to make us more efficient in real world responses, where, as first responders, it can be a matter of life or death."
Practice makes perfect. The majority of the exercises between now and the Operational Readiness Inspection will be pre-announced. People will not be told the exact day but will know the type of exercise to expect. This will afford the opportunity to reference checklists, have roundtable discussions, create internal objectives and make themselves ready when the input is dropped. Exercises are not the time to practice procedures. The down time between them should be used to iron out the wrinkles -- ensure people are trained, all personnel are aware of responsibilities and required resources are available. When the exercise kicks off, it's time to hit the ground running with a sense of urgency. It's showtime. Airmen have been there, done that because of their prior preparation. They will know exactly what to do to help the base achieve necessary postures or send required response in the quickest time.
"As expeditionary warriors it's very important our Airmen exercise with the same seriousness they accomplish the actual mission," said SMSgt Don Sibble, 71st Mission Support Squadron superintendent of military personnel. "We don't deploy to areas with plush conditions, so the more we practice through these exercises, the better prepared we'll be when we are called to deploy. And preparation is the key to success."
Exercises are a part of military life. They give us the opportunity to help ourselves conduct the mission better. Gates will close, Giant Voice will be heard, parking will be a problem, IDs will be checked -- these are a given. But if people look deeper, they will see we don't exercise just because Air Education and Training Command Headquarters mandates it or an ORI is on the horizon. We exercise so we can put out the real world fire when it happens. Team Vance -- prepared and professional.