Are you ready to graduate?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Stephen Wisser
  • Chief, Wing Plans and Exercises
Are you ready to graduate? If you're in Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 10-08, then I'd hope the answer is yes; but that is a different issue. Also, I'm not referring to high school, college or even professional military education.

I'm talking about the well-touted "graduation exercise" that Col. Chris Nowland, 71st Flying Training Wing commander, has been subtly referring to for the last year. So -- are you ready?

This is not an exercise that was put together overnight. Planning began over a year ago when the "Toxic Industrial Chemical/Toxic Industrial Material" report from the 71st Medical Group's bioenvironmental engineering experts identified the train tracks that run east of family housing as a potential hazard to the base if some unforeseen circumstance were to happen.

As the chief of Wing Plans and Exercises, I'm telling you now that the unthinkable event whose likelihood is infinitesimally small is going to happen as a wing training exercise. It will occur during exercise week, currently scheduled May 17-21. So, are you ready?

Do you know where your unit shelter-in-place kit is located? Do you know where to go? Do you know how to use it if your unit emergency management representative is temporarily deployed or on leave? You need answers for these questions. If you don't have them, it's time to ask.

Are you part of the Installation Augmentee Program? If you are, do you know to which team you are assigned? Is your training current and do you have all your required equipment? It is a good bet that each team will be actively supporting the graduation exercise.

Last month, the wing completed a couple of local accountability drills. Lessons learned from each event were placed directly into updated wing guidance. However, there were some issues discovered. Word to the wise -- another local accountability is on the horizon and staying in the Arts & Crafts center for six hours without contacting anyone will just add confusion.

Everyone on base will be affected in one way or another, whether you're in the wing staff, operations, mission support or medical groups. Delays are to be expected, whether traveling through the gates, heading to appointments or just moving around base. That's just the nature of the business as the base will attempt to react as it would to an unimaginable event.

I will ask that if you reside in the privatized housing area that you consider participating if possible. Base response increases and overall learning increases when actual residents are involved -- just ask the families that participated in November's tornado exercise. Actual residents were sent to the Emergency Family Assistance Control Center to request help. That was an objective we had not previously practiced here at Vance and it was well received.

This time around, involvement could be as simple as just staying indoors and turning off your air conditioning system, simulating shelter-in-place actions or an all-out evacuation of the housing area. The situation and leadership inputs will determine the response. I will be sending requests for participation through the Pinnacle housing channels shortly.

With only a month to go before "graduation," please plan accordingly. Only so many can be on leave at one time.