AF contingency response wing supports Army exercise
By Staff Sgt. Robert Hicks, 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 21, 2016
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AFNS) -- Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing worked with Soldiers from Fort Wainwright, Alaska, to load 10 AH-64 Apache helicopters and two Stryker armored vehicles in extreme cold weather during the Rapid Alaska Airlift Week exercise Dec. 10-16.
This is the first time the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade deployed their AH-64s out of Alaska since the unit was activated in September 2015.
Rapid Alaska Airlift Week was developed after a need for an emergency deployment readiness exercise so the Army could test their ability to rapidly respond.
Throughout the exercise Airmen worked hand in hand with Soldiers to load Army troops, equipment and vehicles in the most efficient and effective way possible.
“We came to support and facilitate the movement of Army aircraft and vehicles throughout the RAAW exercise,” said Master Sgt. Davie Hobbs, the 821st Contingency Response Support Squadron contingency response team chief. “By doing this we seamlessly integrated with the 354th Fighter Wing and increased their maximum aircraft on ground by 100 percent by working two C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at once.”
The 621st CRW sent a CRT to support the exercise. CRT's are one of the smaller command and control elements within the wing so it takes every Airman pulling their weight to ensure the mission is a success.
“When we bring this much aircraft and demand to an installation, it’s a step above what the host unit is looking to handle with their real-world mission going on,” said Maj. Eric Lane, the 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron air mobility liaison officer. “The CRW has a unique tool set where they can deploy their personnel and have everything they need to coordinate a mobility piece of this magnitude.”
A portion of the exercise was spent rehearsing and demonstrating the joint team's ability to rapidly deploy combat forces from the extreme temperatures of Alaska.
“The CRW is not limited by weather; it’s a matter of where do you need us to go at this moment, and when we get there we will adapt to accomplish the mission” Hobbs said.
The 621st CRW not only used this exercise to maintain proficiency, but to get Airmen trained and qualified in other aspects of their job.
“This exercise was also critical for the (621st) CRW,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Messer, the 821st CRsS CRT evaluator. “This exercise allowed us to get CRT chiefs trained as well as get some aerial porters exposed to joint inspecting equipment before being loaded onto aircraft.”
Along with the other training, maintainers from the 621ST CRW also had the opportunity to go through a weeklong deicing course.
Exercises like RAAW provide contingency response Airmen the opportunity to work with Soldiers and strengthens the wings inter-service partnerships.
“Training in a joint environment is always great,” Hobbs said, “It gives us the opportunity to see each (other’s) strengths and capabilities as well as work out any kinks, so when it’s a real mission everyone is ready to execute.”
Throughout the training the 621st CRW had help from an air mobility liaison officer, whose objective is to assist and advise Army units for the most efficient and effective way to use airlift provided by the Air Force.
“The AMLO played a critical role over the past week,” Messer said. “His knowledge and expertise of the mobility operations and contacts within the Army made everything flow smooth.”
The AH-64s are being airlifted to Travis Air Force Base, California, where they will be participating in their first National Training Center rotation at Fort Irwin, California. This rotation will validate and certify their level of readiness to Army planners responsible for identifying units for any possible future combat deployments.
Contingency response forces are self-sufficient and can deploy with all the personnel, equipment and supplies to execute the mission, which make them valuable to Air Mobility Command’s rapid global mobility mission.