53rd Air Traffic Control Squadron: Agile Gator Exercise

  • Published
  • By Joseph Mather
  • Robins Public Affairs

The 53rd Air Traffic Control Squadron with the 461st Air Control Wing at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, conducted a mission essential exercise with support from multiple Team Robins partners to test their readiness June 23-29.

Exercise Agile Gator is a semiannual capstone exercise to test the flight’s readiness and ability to assume responsibility for any no-notice missions, like humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

“Our team will be providing deployable air traffic control and landing systems, air traffic control, and airfield management capabilities,” said 1st Lt. Ryan Samolewski, 53rd ATCS Charlie Flight commander.

The 53rd ATCS accomplished a few first-time functions during the exercise.

“We split our normal response force for this type of mission into two teams,” said Samolewski. “Our squadron normally deploys a whole team within 72 hours of tasking.”

For the initial set up, the 53rd ATCS sent the bare minimum needed.

“During this effort, we wanted to test a proof of concept,” said Samolewski. “The bare minimum amount of personnel and equipment needed to startup air traffic control and air field management capabilities within 24 hours of receiving the tasking.”

The second team arrived by the 72 hour mark supplying the remainder of the equipment.

The 53rd ATCS packed up their equipment at Robins and then had a couple of convoys drive to Eastman Dodge County Airport over two days to conduct the exercise.

“We coordinated with the 330th Combat Training Squadron to facilitate some real-time live convoy integration training between an airborne [Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System] unit and our convoy from Robins AFB to Eastman, Georgia,” said Samolewski. “We were accompanied and supported by the Hammer [Adaptive Communications Element] from the 52nd Combat Communications Squadron.”

The 52nd CBCS with the 5th Combat Communications Group provided multiple communication capabilities back to home station during the simulated environment where cell service is degraded and knocked out due to a natural disaster.

Once there, the 53rd ATCS simulated a hurricane response relief mission.

“This tested our ability to be flexible and agile, hence the name of the exercise,” said Samolewski. “If this operation to be viable, this would allow our unit to provide the necessary capabilities to support orderly search and rescue air operations 48 hours earlier than normally prescribed potentially saving countless lives in response to a natural disaster.”