110th Force Support Squadron services members took the opportunity to get out of the office flow and get familiarized with required skills during a Deployment Readiness Exercise that took place June 6-8, 2019 at Battle Creek Air National Guard Base, Mich. The Deployment Readiness Exercise assisted in adding a real-world element to the scheduled training services Airmen were engaged in.
Mission success is the number one priority for military personnel, but how often do we think about all of the skill sets that go into that success? It is important to reinforce the foundation of the military powerhouse: its people.
Services’ main priority is taking care of the basic necessities of its people, from the pillow they lay their head on, to the food that sustains their energy.
Overall, services personnel are responsible for maintaining four pillars of welfare; nutrition, fitness, lodging and mortuary affairs. Their duties include operating equipment and following procedures to provide food, shelter, laundry, first aid, field sanitation and hygiene, mortuary service, recreation, and physical fitness to deployed forces.
While feeding the numbers seems to take precedence in a drill-status environment, conducting training to uphold the other three pillars is of utmost importance.
“This whole week I have seen my people engaged and involved in a training environment. We need to focus on these mission-essential tasks because we have a significant impact on the mission itself.” says Master Sgt Jammie Mosser, services superintendent, 110 FSS.
Their training during the deployment exercise consisted of forklift mobility training, constructing a tent, search and recovery training, and setting up a field kitchen.
Forklift mobility training familiarized Airman on how to properly operate a forklift, as well as the use of correct hand-and-arm signals to ground-guide the driver to successfully lift, move and maneuver a palletized load to a specific location. Paired up, the personnel took turns to train in each position, moving loads from one point to another and placing them in-line with other loads.
“I never thought I would learn to drive a forklift. The major challenge for me was learning to direct my counterpart using the various hand signals and forming that communication loop. I enjoy operating heavy equipment and thought it was quality training,” says Senior Airman David Parks, services personnel, 110 FSS.
Building a Small Shelter System (“triple-S”) to house a Mortuary Affairs Collection Point was their mission on day two. The hangar-like structure is available in multiple sizes and could also be used for various needs such as lodging or dining facilities. Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Praner, services personnel, 110 FSS, explained: “The triple-S comes equipped with multiple layers of insulation, so it can be adapted to a wide variety of environments, and it only requires a four-man team to assemble it.”
Tech. Sgt. Trent Wollberg services personnel, 110 FSS, has had many opportunities to assist in building a triple-S, and shared that a level ground area is ideal for its placement.
“We normally have a pretty pampered area to set up a triple-S, but the terrain made it slightly more difficult to square the frame,” he said.
Search and recovery field training was conducted on day three, when the team was given an exercise scenario in which a helicopter crashed on base leaving pieces of aircraft and simulated human remains scattered in a field.
Afterward, Staff. Sgt. Mark Owens Services Personnel, subject matter expert on mortuary affairs shared his thoughts: “I worked with Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operation down range, so I have done search and recovery with both active duty and the Guard. I felt we handled the training with dignity, honor and respect. Even though it was a training scenario, we all took it very seriously, and understand the gravity of the mortuary affairs mission. The training was very organized and everyone was fully invested in the training.”
The high grass hid the simulated remains very well, making the process slow and methodical. The team canvassed the cordoned area inch-by-inch, on-line with each other.
“The terrain was challenging to search through. We learned more about safety in the process with an active shooter inject during the exercise. That was my first time experiencing that during an exercise,” said Owens.
For the final phase, the Single Pallet Expeditionary Kitchen (SPEK) was placed in a designated location, where the services team opened and unloaded the contents to set up and serve meals to service members.
“It is ideal for bare-base operations. You unload it from the plane and drop it in place with a forklift. As long as you have access to water, diesel fuel and UGRs you can run operations. We try to get hot food to people as soon as possible. The SPEK is the first real rations after a phase of MREs and before real dining facilities are built,” said Praner
It is important to recon an area that allows for gray water drain-off from the dish washing station. A generator is needed to power the water heater, water pump and the range used to warm meals. The SPEK is a fully-functioning kitchen that can prep, cook and serve meals from scratch.
“What’s great about the SPEK is that it is simple, low maintenance, and it can feed 550 people,” said Praner.
Mosser expressed his satisfaction in the execution and success of the training, saying, “In the office environment we very rarely get to organize and lead people. This training allows potential times to manage resources, and build leadership skills within the team, but it also integrates that with valuable familiarization training.”