2004 exercises test Vance's readiness, include training rounds

  • Published
  • By Lt Col Robert Reese
  • 71st Flying Training Wing
As we begin 2004 the wing begins a new cycle of exercises.
The exercise program is critical to maintaining the wing's readiness to deal with crises that may arise as we accomplish our mission of training the next generation of warriors and leaders.
Through the hard work and dedication by its exercise evaluation team, the 71st Flying Training Wing garnered an "Excellent" during last summer's Operational Readiness Inspection. The wing successfully completed its extensive exercise requirements ensuring the wing was fully ready to execute the various plans and contingencies we may be called upon to perform.
Wing exercises provide us with a valuable opportunity to test ourselves and our ability to meet those contingencies. Fortunately, thanks to Team Vance's professionalism and hard work, the wing has not had to deal with very many actual crisis situations in the past year. But it's important that we do not become complacent in thinking that "it" won't happen to us.
Each exercise should be approached from a training point of view. Every unit on the base has a role in any crisis that occurs. Obviously each unit's role will vary depending on the crisis.
The unit's role may vary from being the lead unit responsible for the wing's response to merely making sure that unit personnel are informed of the situation. As we exercise each unit should look for ways to exercise their procedures for the given scenario. By maximizing participation in each exercise, each unit can assess their readiness and ability to operate during an actual crisis.
There will be some changes to the exercise program this year, although most will be transparent at the unit level. The Air Staff recently published some new instructions that place additional exercise requirements on each wing. Due to the ongoing threat of terrorism, we will see a more robust anti-terrorism exercise program this year. Additionally, the Air Force recently published the Full Spectrum Threat Response Instruction that has a set of exercise requirements.
As the EET plans for the 2004 exercise program, Team Vance can look forward to a more robust overall exercise program. Count on a wing exercise at least monthly. Some units may hold small-scale exercises in addition to the wing exercises. These exercises are smaller in scale and more focused to those units particular readiness needs.
Among the changes for this year, there will be announced "training exercises." Although each exercise should be approached from a training perspective, these exercises will not be graded and therefore will not count towards our annual exercise requirements. They will provide commanders with an opportunity to fine-tune their unit's processes.
The first of these training exercises occurs Tuesday afternoon. The wing will exercise a "Class A" aircraft mishap. The exercise scenario involves a T-37 mishap on the base with multiple fatalities.
During the course of the exercise, all the procedures normally accomplished by this sort of mishap will take place. That will include collecting the appropriate records from the flying squadron, medical group and maintenance. Additionally, the wing will stand-up an interim safety investigation board and they will accomplish the procedures for securing the accident site and initial evidence collection.
This training exercise provides a great opportunity to kick off this year's exercise schedule. I encourage all to approach these exercises with a positive mindset. If we are going to find deficiencies in our contingency plans, it is far better to find them during an exercise instead of during an actual contingency response.