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Speed-Training Refreshes North Carolina Air National Guard

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  • By by Staff Sgt. Laura Montgomery
  • 145th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Nearly 300 members of the North Carolina Air National Guard participate in an Ability To Survive and Operate exercise, brushing up on skills needed for field conditions, in a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft hangar held at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, Jan. 10, 2019.

The Ability To Survive and Operate exercise allows members to familiarize themselves with concepts they do not use on a regular basis; from dressing field wounds to identifying explosive ordinance devices, the members successfully navigate through their speed-training.

“We put together a total of 10 stations: nine groups of 16 people, and they rotate every 15-20 minutes with security forces, emergency management, medical, and an explosive ordinance devices unit with the Army, training them today,” said Master Sgt. Noah Burgess, 145th Force Support Squadron.

A trainer from the 145th Security Forces Squadron was on hand to demonstrate the use of the M-4 Carbine; the Ability To Survive and Operate exercise as his first training event.

“We’re teaching weapons safety and the basic fundamentals of the M-4; how to clear, load, immediate actions firing down range, reloading, and how to fix your weapon if it fails,” said Airman First Class Brendan Hastings, “We have about 15 minutes for each group and it’s gone through pretty quickly and smoothly; we’ve met expectations, no hiccups.”

For some members, the Ability To Survive and Operate exercise is a new type of training experience. 

“It’s always a good reminder. Everything we’ve done, I’ve taken notice and I’ve really liked it,” said Airman 1st Class Jared Chapman, 145th Civil Engineering Squadron, as he finished refresher training with decontamination following chemical attacks. 

Chapman works with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units which require great attention to detail, trouble-shooting, and use of chemicals. “Working with chemicals like that is a big safety hazard and a lot of people don’t really worry about it, but I know this is a big part of it, just like working with HVAC,” said Chapman.

The importance and need for the Ability To Operate and Survive exercise is best narrated by individuals that have had to use their training in the field. 

“It’s one of those things where you wonder how you’re going to react until you get into the situation. Sometimes people get paralyzed a little bit and they aren’t sure what to do,” said Tech. Sgt. Mark Fow, 145th Emergency Management and PAR Team trainer. 

Fow describes an incident that took place when he was a new to the Air Force; after having been deployed to Iraq, he had to lead a team as an Airman 1st Class, to detect chemicals from a real-world mortar attack that was leaking fluid. “Fortunately, based on my training I was able to react and start making decisions. A lot of it came naturally, and I was the most junior ranking person there but because of my training I was able to rely on that, take action, and handle business,” said Fow. 

The seriousness of the Ability To Survive and Operate training is reiterated through Fow’s stories in hopes of helping educate those who may not take the training seriously. In addition to training chemical readings, Fow also trains on how to properly wear the Mission-Oriented Protective Posture suit.

“A lot of times when you’re the teacher, you don’t always have to put what you teach other people into practice,” said Fow. “It’s hard when we live in the states and the threat of chemical attacks is fairly low. A lot of places we could be sent to, the threat is not low, they’re a potentially medium or high threat. Often times, what I stress is making sure you know how to wear your gear properly. The one thing that’s going to save your life is being able to wear the mask and suit properly.” 

The Army was also in attendance for the Ability To Survive and Operate exercise assisting in demonstrating the proper identification of explosive ordinance devices. 

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect but we were given guidelines on what to train, but from what we’ve seen and done so far it’s been great. It seems like the Airmen enjoy it and it’s opened their eyes a lot,” said a specialist with the 430th Explosive Ordinance Devices Unit. “This was our first time, I hope we can build off this partnership and relationship so we can do more training events like this.”