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SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill – Over 350 Airmen from the 375th Air Mobility Wing executed a large-scale rapid deployment during an operation coined “Ballistic Badger 22,” held Oct. 17-25 both here and at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin.
Thanks to airlift from two C-17s, the wing landed at Volk Field, which simulated an aeromedical staging facility at a location in the Pacific that had little in place prefabricated infrastructure. The mission: continue to build a presence, work and operate in a contested environment and provide critical aeromedical evacuation capability for the nation.
“Packing our bags and setting up a base somewhere else added realism for our Airmen,” said Col. Vincent Livie. He also serves as the 375th Operations Group commander. “At Scott, Airmen do their jobs amazingly, every single day, but doing it out here in a deployed environment is different. These concepts are going to be needed in the next fight. You can train to a certain extent at home, but coming out here and actually accomplishing a mission is really valuable.”
Airmen from all career fields provided realistic support for the war-time conditions. For example, the 375th Force Support Squadron teams built a Single Pallet Expeditionary Kitchen to feed the arriving Airmen; the 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron worked outside of their element to prepare over 250 M4 carbines and 50 M9 pistols, and in order to get communications ready, the Scott innovation team, Elevate, set up communication infrastructure satellites in remote locations.
Airmen filled roles that expanded outside of their career field to include doing par sweeps, assisting with aeromedical evacuations, assisting in building tents, filling in for manpower spots, and performing Tactical Combat Casualty Care.
“We need Airmen who can do multiple jobs,” explained Livie. “We can't possibly put a team of every function into every location across the Pacific and expect to be agile at the same time. We need to figure out what makes sense for their career field, and be able to augment other career fields. That's what is necessary to accomplish the mission.”
In addition, Airmen role played as casualties with realistic moulage to assist with the 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron who provided emergency care to hundreds of patients with a wide range of injuries. Patients were loaded onto litters and into ambulatory buses where they received further care before being transported onto a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft back to their home station. This portion of the exercise took some by surprise because these losses were not replaced or “went back to work.”
Staff Sgt. Kelly Pope, 375th AES technician, said, “Our mission is to take care of patients as quickly and as efficiently as possible. We had big patient loads, patient injuries, and patient illnesses. I would say this exercise was accurate training for what we could potentially see in a near-peer environment.”
Also interesting to this deployment was a “Forward Operating Site”, set up by the 375th Civil Engineer Squadron as a secure location, temporary in nature to aid in the capability to perform tactical operations. Airmen at the FOS were required to maintain the infrastructure, augment defenders on patrols, and provide support in a firefight with the 375th SFS, all while operating in and out of chemical warfare dress levels for multiple hours.