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Air Commandos seek ‘outstanding’ ORI results

The Air Commandos of the 27th Special Operations Wing have high expectations for the November Operational Readiness Inspection — they’re hoping for an “outstanding” rating, the best possible result.

The wing conducted an Operational Readiness Exercise at Cannon Air Force Base beginning August 2. This exercise was one of several held this year to prepare airmen for the inspection.

In the first week of the exercise, known as Phase I, the wing received a simulated deployment order and prepared to deploy.

The Phase II portion of the exercise began Monday. In this phase, airmen simulated a deployed environment by practicing expeditionary skills in a tent city on the base.

Major support elements were represented in the tent city, including security forces, communications, medical, weather, civil engineering, public affairs, personnel, judge advocate, force support, and more.

Maj. Mark Sudduth, 27th Special Operations Wing Inspector General, oversees all exercises to prepare the wing for the inspection in November. Overall, he said, the inspection will measure how well 27 SOW airmen do their jobs while deployed.

“We’re on track for ‘outstanding’ results in November,” he said.

So far in the exercise, Sudduth said he is particularly impressed by the young airmen participating.

“Their attitude and their willingness and ability to go above and beyond their present skill level is awesome,” he said.

The wing has conducted exercises throughout 2010. “We do this,” Sudduth said, for “the same reason you practice every day for the football game Sunday. Folks need a chance to practice.”

He is currently focusing on the wing’s ability to transition from an Air Expeditionary Force to a Special Operations Force mindset, in which airmen must be prepared to operate and deploy with very little notice.

“People have to be ready to deploy now,” Sudduth said.

Sudduth said all parts of the exercise have training value, and evaluators maximize time available.

“There are reasons for everything we do in the exercise, even if it doesn’t seem like it,” he said. “All this preparation will pay dividends come ORI time.”

Exercise Evaluation Team member Senior Master Sgt. Brad Branfield of the 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron observed a group of six airmen wrap a storage container in plastic to prevent spread of simulated contamination Monday.

He said the exercise helps airmen practice perishable skills that they may need in future operations.

“They are learning and re-learning things they don’t do often,” he said.

Sgt. Branfield also said the exercise is going as expected so far, and airmen are learning critical skills for the inspection this fall.

“Some things are good, some things are not so good,” he said. Through the exercise, airmen learn from their mistakes and become better prepared to deploy, he said.

Members of the Civil Engineer Squadron provide critical support for the exercise. They build and maintain the tents, coordinate facilities hardening, mark out the “play area,” keep detailed maps of the tent city, and provide power and HVAC support, said Senior Airman Josh Bauer of 27 SOCES.

“If something breaks, we fix it,” 2nd Lt. Dan Amack, the Civil Engineer Asset Optimization Element Chief said. “CE is always busy.”

Senior Airman George Jang of the 27th Special Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight played an important real-life role in the exercise.

He provided real-time weather support and notified participants and evaluators of winds, thunderstorms and other weather conditions, he said.

He also conducted aircrew briefs in which he informed pilots on flight weather conditions and made continuous tactical weather observations using specialized equipment.

“This was a great learning experience,” he said. “This is exactly what we do when we deploy.”