March 22, 2017 (by SSgt. Shelton Sherrill) - The 403rd Wing successfully completed the Green Flag Little Rock 17-05 exercise at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, March 10-22. It was the largest Green Flag exercise to date, and the first time an Air Force Reserve unit has led such an event.
TSgt. Jonathan Packer, 815th AS, secures chains on C-130J Super Hercules aircraft during the Green Flag Little Rock 17-05 exercise March 19 in Alexandria, Luisiana. [USAF photo by SSgt. Shelton Sherrill]
“The exercise simulated a deployment operated out of Little Rock AFB, and we flew combat missions to simulated combat areas,” said Lt. Col. Stuart Rubio, 815th Airlift Squadron commander.
The joint exercise involved active-duty and Air Force Reserve components, which provided aerial support to U.S. Army troops in order to gain experience with ground and air operations in a combat zone.
The 815th Airlift Squadron delivered supplies and transported troops to the deployment locations while the 803rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintained planes to ensure they were ready for each mission.
“We see this as a dress rehearsal for our deployment coming up in 2018,” said Rubio. “This puts our Airmen, those who are doing the support functions on the ground and those who are flying the missions, in as close to a combat scenario as we can get so that when we actually deploy, they will have the feeling they have been there.
“It is a time to try out techniques, learn from each other and come out much more aware of where we stand and where we need to focus our training leading up to the deployment,” said Rubio.
The exercise also prepared members to deal with the stress on mind and body of flying long missions and challenged their skills in in getting the rest needed for their next mission.
For the maintainers on the ground, Chief Master Sgt. Mark Kettner, 803rd AMXS superintendent, said the exercise allowed maintainers to apply what they learned in their individual work areas and bring it together in an unfamiliar place while working together as a team.
Rubio said this exercise has been a great success because the participants not only learned a great deal, they also showed they can bring Reserve and active-duty units together to complete a challenging mission.