Phoenix Readiness to become 'graduate-level' training

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Scott Elliott
  • Air Force Print News
Expeditionary combat support personnel throughout the Air Force will soon have more opportunities to get "graduate-level training" in the art of building and operating an air base from scratch.

Phoenix Readiness, the Air Mobility Command-run training program operated by the Air Mobility Warfare Center at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., has been designated by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper for upgrade to a flag-level program. Flag exercises are designed to train all Air Force expeditionary airmen.

"A great deal of the Air Force's integrated warfighting training is done during flag exercises, such as Red Flag and Blue Flag," said Lt. Gen. Michael E. Zettler, deputy chief of staff for installations and logistics. "Our Air Force today is expeditionary, and our prime operating environment is in a deployed state. It's only logical that we take the Phoenix Readiness operation, fine-tune it, and make it our flag-level integrated training opportunity for deployed operations."

According to Maj. Gen. Timothy A. Peppe, special assistant to the chief of staff for air and space expeditionary forces, Phoenix Readiness currently trains seven classes per year. Each class comprises 450 officers and airmen from more than 20 Air Force specialty codes.

"We hope to expand the number of AFSCs, and one could make the case that any deployable AFSC should (attend)," Peppe said.

Lt. Gen. John R. Baker, AMC vice commander, said he applauded the designation of Phoenix Readiness as a flag-level program.

"One of the advantages of reaching officers and airmen from different ECS specialties through Phoenix Readiness is that, together, they will learn how to deploy as a cohesive expeditionary flight, squadron or wing," Baker said.

Airmen spend 12 training days at Phoenix Readiness, studying career-field and common-core tasks, pre-deployment planning, deployment sustainment and re-deployment activities the first week. The course also prepares leaders -- group commanders through front-line supervisors -- to deal with integrating and deconflicting the efforts of the various functions needed to build a base in an austere environment.

A field-training exercise completes the training by integrating all specialties into one military operation striving toward a single mission, Peppe said.

"The last days include going to a bare-base site, taking equipment that's packed up just as it would be on a pallet you unload from an airplane," Peppe said. "They have to break it down, erect their tents on wooden frames, set up their kitchens and their perimeters -- the whole nine yards. (They do) everything that goes with opening up a bare base."

According to Peppe, the Phoenix Readiness experience contributes heavily to the service's expeditionary goals by creating better trained and more experienced airmen.

"The bottom line is (that) I've heard rave reviews from everyone, particularly from those who have gone to Afghanistan or some of the other places, and have (acquired) the skills taught at Phoenix Readiness," Peppe said.

"From the people I've talked to, the Phoenix Readiness graduate is better prepared to handle the task of setting up a bare-base than those who have not had the opportunity for this integrated training," he said.

Maj. Gen. Christopher A. Kelly, AMWC commander, said he is proud of the Phoenix Readiness program.

"Phoenix Readiness has steadily built a tradition of excellence for training the total force," Kelly said. "We stand ready to accept the challenges of our expanded mission to provide flag-level expeditionary combat skills training."

The program is not mandatory for all deployable airmen, but Peppe said such a requirement is being examined. In the meantime, Phoenix Readiness will expand to eight classes next year, then to ten classes by fiscal 2004.

While a new name for the flag-level exercise has not been determined yet, Peppe said he is sure of one thing: "It's a Red Flag for those people in the ECS arena. (It's) graduate-level training."