MDL air power combined at Crisis Response 17

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Lauren Russell
  • Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

In a small building on the Combat Readiness Training Center here, leaders from across the 305th Air Mobility Wing, 87th Air Base Wing, 621st Contingency Response Wing and 514th Air Mobility work around the clock.


For the past six months, their job has been to work closely with the Joint Base MDL wings to plan and coordinate the operational readiness exercise Crisis Response 2017, and the final body of deployers has just touched down.


“We’re here to execute this vision our commanders have that stresses and exercises our wartime capabilities,” said Maj. Gwendolyn Soden, director of inspections for the 514th AMW. “We’ve taken the objectives from the wing leadership, top down and the squadrons, bottom up, to create a scenario that gives everyone a chance to practice what they can’t always do at MDL.”


Working as the “game makers” of the exercise, the wing inspection team and the white cell members are tasked with creating an itinerary that blends the unique mobility capabilities of MDL into a functional and realistic simulated crisis response exercise.


“Once we have the objectives from our wing commanders, we develop a script and take the [exercise] players through it,” said Lt. Col. Fernando Waldron, traditional reservist director of inspections for the 514th AMW. “We’re the control group that makes this machine run.”


With the ORE being heavily operations and maintenance focused in the past, the WIT plans to take the 2017 exercise down a more unique, but probable, wartime scenario. 


After the 621st CRW arrived on scene and established an aerial port, active duty and reserve Airmen from the remaining operations and support wings arrived, and the CRW departed, only to return with a skeleton crew to break down the port after the exercise has ended, adding to the intricacy of the exercise.


“This isn’t just one deployment, it’s really a series of three deployments, dovetailing together,” said Lt. Col. G. Bane Howell, commander’s action group director for the 732nd Airlift Squadron and CR17 white cell director. “The complexity is up, but the realism is up too.”  


However, the WIT members included these unique complications for good reason, explained Soden.


“This exercise is a snapshot for us to show not only our wing leaders, but leadership at ‘big’ Air Force too,” said Soden. “The results will allow us to step back and see our strengths but also the constraints.  We’re hoping that this feedback to [headquarters] will ultimately help make the Air Force better.”


With CR17 now in full swing, the WIT remains working non-stop, injecting simulated scenarios that are all intended to train and prepare JB MDL Airmen for unprecedented operations.


“The Air Force has always been the branch that’s innovating and air power, by its very nature, is a constantly evolving thing,” said Howell. “If we’re going to keep that spirit of innovation alive, we owe it to our leaders to come down here and train like we fight.”