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Training and exercises are an essential element

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Matthew B. Baker
  • 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander
Military training begins the moment one signs up for service, learns military hierarchy basics, service customs and courtesies, and continues with increasingly advanced stages throughout their military career. My earliest memory of military training takes me back to 1990, when I joined the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of California.

Having joined ROTC late in the program, I missed the first two quarters of instruction with all the basics such as saluting, marching, etc., and stepped right into combat training. Incredibly, my first training session involved assaulting an objective conducted by a green beret who was a Medal of Honor recipient, Sergeant Maj. Jon R. Caviani. Caviani was a man of amazing exploits, but his bottom line was that during a crisis, success lies with properly executing skills learned throughout training, which is ultimately tested through exercises.

The 375th Air Mobility Wing is currently wrapping up an Operational Readiness Exercise ensuring that the wing and its personnel are ready to both deploy and execute wartime tasks across a wide range of functional areas. Exercises validate training and readiness, ultimately ensuring personnel and units are prepared to execute real world missions. Training and exercises are a fundamental part of military life. Our wing's mission is to enable combat power, and in-turn successful mission execution is reliant on well trained Airmen motivated to achieve excellence.

During the ORE, a sample of Airmen from across the wing were tested on wartime task performance within their specific functional areas. Successfully completing tasks while appropriately reacting to exercise scenario injects validate an Airman's mastery of skills necessary to execute real world missions in a deployed environment. Airmen receive extensive training in both their functional areas and basic warfighting skills. When performing mission essential tasks, Airmen must be able to correctly and expeditiously execute their objective, regardless of conditions around them. If a task is interrupted due to an attack, accident, or other incident, Airmen must promptly react to the new situation, take corrective action, and resume their original objective.

The ORE only validates a portion of the entire wing. Every Airman should be able to perform to the same standard as their counterparts participating in the ORE. Units should have training programs in-place to ensure all personnel are prepared, trained and ready. Functional area training is an everyday occurrence, but training on the basic warfighting skills and how those two training areas interface are often neglected. It is imperative that units develop a comprehensive training plan validated through practice and exercise; maximizing training time during Wing Training Days. Additional training events should be considered as needed to improve familiarity and confidence in task and mission accomplishment.

Meeting HAF and MAJCOM directed training standards or thresholds, such as annual Task Qualification Training requirements, are minimum standards, and we know excellence is not achieved through reaching minimum standards. Most wing functional area subject matter experts reside at the squadron and flight level, placing them in a position to best identify and satisfy unique unit training requirements. The proficiency demonstrated during training and exercises builds confidence in Airmen.

Self-assurance and trust in your comrades is crucial to effective team development and is a key component in unit esprit de corps. Members of successful teams push each other to continually improve. Motivation to achieve excellence is what has propelled the U.S. Air Force to become recognizably the best Air Force in the world. As such, wartime deployment and execution readiness ensures our Airmen are prepared to "Fly-Fight and Win," in Air, Space and Cyberspace, and are prepared to Answer the Call of Others...So They May Prevail.