Exercise Fast Money: 53rd ATCS tests readiness skills

  • Published
  • By Holly Logan-Arrington
  • Robins Public Affairs

The 53rd Air Traffic Control Squadron with the 461st Air Control Wing at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, tested its Airmen’s expeditionary skills during the Fast Money Readiness Exercise at the Heart of Georgia Regional Airport June 9-14.

Units from the 461st and 116th ACWs, the 78th Air Base Wing, and the 5th Combat Communications Group provided support for the exercise.

Lt. Col. Jeremy Gracy, 53rd Air Traffic Control Squadron commander, said the collaboration and partnering of multiple units from Robins Air Force Base, along with the generosity of the airport staff, made this readiness exercise a success.

“While the exercise players were from the 53rd ATCS, the scope of collaborating and supporting units who provided everything from field communications, planning support, opposing forces, role players, moulage make-up artists, trainers, evaluators and inspectors was truly impressive,” he said.

“The hospitality of Heart of Georgia Regional Airport granted us access to an ideal and safe area to conduct our training event,” Gracy said. “The 53rd ATCS has been increasing the realism of our training and readiness exercises and this could not have been accomplished without their support.” 

Master Sgt. Cassandra Denton, 53rd ATCS Plans & Programs Flight chief, said the exercise tested Airmen’s skills of building a basic expeditionary airfield resource base, also referred to as a BEAR base, from the ground up, while testing other skills used in a deployment environment.

“Exercise Fast Money was designed to replicate the deployment of a mini BEAR base starting from an empty field,” she said. “Scenarios included testing the ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute, and maintain the ability to sustain airfield operations in an expeditionary environment. Fundamental training included defensive and protective tactics from conventional attacks to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats."

The 53rd ATCS commander said the exercise challenged his Airmen like never before.

“Readiness exercises offer a safe and controlled environment in which to replicate the stress and hard work of an expeditionary deployment,” Gracy said. “Exercise Fast Money has been the most challenging readiness exercise the 53rd ATCS has held to date. This builds experiences and training for Airmen to respond to difficult and chaotic situations in which the survivability of Air Force capabilities is tested.” 

Denton said the Airmen’s recent exercise performance has been the best by far.

“I have been an inspector for the last four exercises the 53rd ATCS has participated in, and I can honestly say I am seeing these Airmen improve by leaps and bounds,” the senior noncommissioned officer said. “When given the right tools and the opportunity to showcase their skills, Airmen will always impress.”

Lessons learned from readiness exercises help shape future tactics, techniques and procedures, Gracy said, to ensure personnel and systems can continue to survive and thrive when the normal operating environment is disrupted.

Gracy said the teamwork of many enabled the 53rd ATCS to create its most realistic and challenging exercise to date to push Airmen to their limits, both physically and mentally, in a safe, controlled environment, while validating the team’s ability to execute its mission.

“Warfare is a mental and physical endeavor,” he said. “Creating a scenario that safely pushes personnel to their physical and mental limits requires deliberate planning and a balanced approach to risk. Physical exhaustion from hard labor, sleep deprivation from long hours, discomfort from heat and field conditions, while simultaneously confronting the chaos of multiple emergency scenarios are all aspects which our Airmen of the 53rd ATCS responded to with exceptional motivation and outstanding professionalism. I could not be more proud.”