165th Airlift Wing takes lead in Operation Crisis Reach inspection

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Charles Dealno
  • 165th Airlift Wing
GULFPORT, Ms. - The Georgia Air National Guard's 165th Airlift Wing successfully completed Air Mobility Command's Operational Readiness Inspection at the Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport, Miss., Jan. 30-Feb. 5, 2012.

Operation Crisis Reach was a test to determine a wing's ability to support contingency operations around the globe at a moment's notice in a hostile environment. The 165th AW was the lead unit for the 122nd Air Expeditionary Wing which comprised the 403rd Wing, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., 433rd Airlift Wing, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, and 165th Airlift Wing, Savannah, Hilton Head International Airport, Georgia.

"Preparation starts at a slow pace and begins to build over a several year period. Five major exercises and numerous readiness "rodeos" have been completed. Ultimate planning for the actual inspection began over 18 months in advance," said Major Sheldon Wilson, 165th AW Plans Officer. "The Lead Unit is the arbitrator between participating units. It determines facilities, work schedules, and all factors affecting exercise operation. Our coordination is vital to a smooth deployment, execution, and redeployment during the ORI."

Col. Mike Oberbroeckling, Air Mobility Command Inspector General, announced that the 165th Airlift Wing satisfactorily passed the Operational Readiness Inspection on Feb. 9, 2012 during an out-brief at the Savannah Combat Readiness Training Center conference center.

The ORI was challenging for the combined unit due to the sustained thunderstorms, thirty knot winds, and ninety percent humidity. Regardless of the Air Force specialty, the IG tested deployed personnel on their ability to survive and operate in a contaminated environment as well as their response to conventional air and ground attacks. Earlier training prepared the 165th AW airmen to perform post-attack actions, report unexploded ordnance, respond to chemical agents, treat injured airmen using self aid and buddy care, and to clear a jammed weapon. Throughout the rigorous training and inspection, every member of the deployed team was taught to be conscious of safety and to look out for their wingman.

"Any perception of ORI training not being realistic is unacceptable. It's likely we'll never face such dire circumstances; however, our unit will be stronger due to the process. Urgency and dedication to correct mission accomplishment is imperative. Even though the mission is simulated, our stress and fatigue are real," said Jesse T. Simmons, Jr., Commander of the 165th Airlift Wing.

With about eight hundred Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve airmen in place, members of the 122nd AEW were able to demonstrate to evaluators, during stressful situations, the ability to successfully complete the mission as key leaders and buildings were attacked and taken out of the operation. As each scenario played out, airmen stepped in to fill the responsibilities and functions of their fallen comrades. In a situation when a building was destroyed, alternate functions seamlessly took control as an alternate site was set up. As the inspection came to a close, airmen of the 165th AW felt a sense of accomplishments as the IG report confirmed the wing's ability to provide global support to contingency operations with little notice.