ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
The 461st and 116th Air Control Wings Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System team performed a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives environment training event at Robins Air Force Base Georgia, June 26.
The CBRNE training tested the JSTARS team’s ability to launch E-8C Joint STARS aircraft in a simulated chemical environment.
Col. Ed Goebel, 461st Air Control Wing commander, said this was a two-fold event.
“First, I want to emphasize that across our force whether active, guard or reserve, training to the CBRNE threat is part of our DNA,” Goebel said. “As we have spent the greater part of two decades and continue to fight in what some might say are permissive environments, we have allowed some of those CBRNE skills to drop off because that hasn’t been what our nation demanded of us; we had to be razor sharp in other areas of warfighting. We see a shift, and now we’re all honing those capabilities again.”
“The second part of this, and no less important, is our Air Force chief of staff has emphasized the need for us to adapt how we train and operate ‘because the coronavirus is going to be a reality for a while,’” he continued. “This training will become more routine for us, and I’m happy to be a part of this crew dusting off our chem gear and practicing those skill sets again. This training is critical in building confidence in our gear and in each other. As a Team JSTARS organization, we’re enhancing our capabilities to battle COVID-19, and reinforcing our ability to survive and operate in a CBRNE environment.”
According to Chad Kale, director of inspections and a member of the Total Force Integration 116th / 461st Air Control Wing Inspector General office, Aircrew Flight Equipment personnel provided refresher training to the crew during mission planning and ensure crew members were safe at all times while wearing the Aircrew Chemical Defense Equipment.
Once the refresher training was complete, the JSTARS aircrew donned their ACDE.
“The training event will test both the 461st and 116th ACWs ground and aircrew members’ ability to adapt and deal with near-peer threats while in a CBRNE environment,” said Kale.
Even though the JSTARS aircrew did not fly while wearing their ACDE, the training put them to the test.
According to Kale, the JSTARS team had to safely place a crew on an E-8C Joint STARS aircraft in their ACDE. This involved navigating stairs and showing the ability to effectively connect ACDE to the aircraft console, communicate while connected and breathe emergency oxygen.
JSTARS ground crews performed this at Mission Oriented Protective Posture level four, the highest designation for the CBRNE protective equipment.
“Maintenance crews launched the JSTARS aircraft in MOPP-4 utilizing the Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology while utilizing hand signals and no voice communication,” said Kale.
All units involved will receive a report that identifies deficiencies, recommended improvement areas and notes.
“This will provide the wing commanders the opportunity to see first-hand the status of Team JSTARS readiness in a CBRNE environment,” said Kale.
The 116th/461st ACW IG office has been planning the training event for three weeks and will benefit from this crucial training.
“The exercise provided the 116th/461st IG an opportunity to inspect a small-scale readiness exercise and train new wing inspection team members on how to conduct inspections,” said Kale.
This also provided a valuable training opportunity for the 78th SFS in balancing security of aircraft and ensuring aircrews in MOPP-4 are able to step to aircraft in a minimal amount of time.
Goebel was pleased with the JSTARS teams exercise performance.
“I’m proud to be a Liberaider and part of JSTARS,” Goebel said. “Our 461st Airmen, alongside their Georgia Air National Guard counterparts in the 116th Air Control Wing continue to impress. They tackled the event with a sense of urgency and ensured the training was accomplished realistically, which improves our ability to operate and meet our mission objectives in a CBRNE environment.”
He also reiterated the importance of executing trainings of this nature.
“The bottom line is routine training events like this help us to build and sustain combat readiness so we can accomplish our mission for the nation,” Goebel said. “Our way ahead will be an increased focus on this kind of training, accomplishing it wherever and whenever we can, as these Total Force Integration teams continue to support Combatant Commanders around the globe.”