CRW delivers agile mobility expertise during exercise Green Flag Little Rock

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Liliana Moreno
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs
The sound of gunfire echoed across the open field at the Geronimo Landing Zone as Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing based out of Travis Air Force Base, California, responded to a simulated base attack during a training mission in support of Green Flag Little Rock exercise, Feb. 6-17.

The primary objective for all participants of the exercise was to support the Joint Readiness Training Center and provide the maximum number of airlift crews, mission planners and ground support elements to a simulated combat environment with emphasis on joint force integration.

To support the wing priorities, contingency response Airmen tested a few capabilities to accomplish operations in contested, degraded and operationally limiting environments.

"During the exercise, we tested having the smallest footprint possible and brought enough equipment to open a second location as we transitioned from our initial airfield to a forward deployed location," said Capt. Jonathan Van Pinxteren, contingency response element commander. "There are a lot of moving parts involved and this trial run gave us good insight into the difficulty but plausibility of the agile basing concept. Additionally, getting the opportunity to do field training is necessary practice for us all, from setting up tents to directing cargo and airflow."

Lt. Col. Taylor Johnston, 921st Contingency Response Squadron commander, said agile basing is essential to contingency response operations within the full spectrum of operations from humanitarian aid to combat operations.

"Agile basing enhances our viability as it provides combatant commanders with the capability to open an air base anytime, anywhere, without having to worry about significant logistical constraints," Johnston said. "We provide combatant commanders with near immediate basing solutions based on the ever-evolving scheme of maneuver. In humanitarian scenario, it ensures that the contingency response is capable of moving quickly to emerging disasters, and in combat operations it allows us to be as close to the front lines of conflict as possible."

Once on the ground at the Geronimo Landing Zone, the contingency response team had to quickly establish security around the perimeter, build defensive fighting positions and place concertina wire around the area, all while maintaining communication and airflow operations.

"This type of training allows CR Airmen to train together to develop a unified security-centric mindset. As members of a contingency response group we have the potential to deploy as a small and lean force to austere environments with little to no support and it may come down to only having ourselves to rely on," said Tech. Sgt. Elizabeth Berreles, 921st CRS security forces assistant flight chief. "The realistic training has allowed us to hone our skills as a team to better defend ourselves, our resources and our base."

The CRT's strategic defense plan was put to the ultimate test Feb. 14, when simulated enemy forces threatened to overrun the compound.

"During the attack, my team was off shift when we were suddenly awakened to the sound of multiple weapons firing. Without hesitation, my team woke up, kitted up and tactically moved from their tents to predetermined defensive fighting positions," Berreles said. "The entire team, to include non-security forces members, quickly jumped into action and engaged the threat. As a leader, I was pumped to see members from various job specialties work together to defend the base. We have drastically improved our defense capabilities on a daily basis while out here and I am extremely proud of everyone."

While JRTC provides tactical-level training, the joint training received during the exercise was also invaluable to participants.

"Working with our allies is always a great idea, as we would be together in any global operation," Van Pinxteren said. "Having the Royal Canadian Air Force here gives us the opportunities to see each other at work and learn from each other."

Johnston agreed, and said the ability to operate in a joint environment is more crucial today than ever in the past.

"JRTC exercises allow us to work hand in hand with deploying army units and integrate our tactics, techniques and procedures with them," he said. "Each side is learning from each other and fostering relationships between services. The learning and relationship building provides greater synchronicity during operations in everything from humanitarian aid to combat ops."

Col. Ryan Marshall, 621st CRW commander, emphasized how it is essential the CRW is ready to deliver at the speed of war because the defense of our nation rests on each team's ability to integrate while trying to meet and maintain the pace of the future.

"In order to remain relevant warfighters, we must look at ways to ensure continuous capability in the face of adversaries employing technological advances to create contested and reduced or denied access environments across all operating domains," he added. "CRW Airmen will overcome this friction by employing agility and innovation, while providing cornerstones to create difficult dilemmas for our adversaries."