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Bradley Airmen Keep that Combat Edge

BRADLEY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, East Granby, Conn. -- Members of the Connecticut Air National Guard's 103rd Airlift Wing successfully completed an Operational Readiness Exercise (ORE) at Bradley Air National Guard Base June 1, 2008. 

"The exercise was geared mainly at our newer troops that have not been through an ORE before," said Col. Gary M. Costello, vice wing commander, 103rd Airlift Wing.
The training exercise focused on the fundamental war-fighting skills of self-aid and buddy care, unexploded ordinance marking, and proper command and control through effective communications. 

"I feel more comfortable now, and more prepared," said Airman 1st Class Danielle Cummings, food services technician, 103rd Services Flight. 

Hands-on experience provides Airmen with the confidence and practice they need to succeed during future deployments. 

"This exercise went well--we learned a lot," said Col. Costello. "One of our main goals was to evaluate the sense of urgency displayed by the airmen and officers in our organization; that sense of urgency was apparent," he said. 

Although the primary mission of the 103rd Airlift Wing has changed from a fighter mission to an airlift mission, maintaining skills as war fighters is no less important today. 

"We need to be able to keep that combat edge," said Col. Costello. "Every Airman is a warrior." 

Airmen have always been expected to master their individual jobs, but during OREs they must also serve as the eyes and ears of the commander. The accurate and timely reporting of events to the Emergency Operations Center through the various Unit Control Centers on base is critical to effective command and control. 

"The Airmen in my unit were well briefed and equipped, and ready to hit the ground running. The junior troops had exemplary attitudes, a strong sense of urgency and a heightened situational awareness," said Tech. Sgt. Michael A. Magana, network systems administrator, 103rd Communications Squadron. 

Leadership depends on savvy Airmen who can maintain their composure and attention to detail under stressful situations; Airmen who can and do get the job done. 

"10 years ago, you would not have seen the training that goes on now to prepare our Airman to go to war," said Col. Costello. 

As the total force moves toward a joint fighting posture, Airmen are being called upon to operate in new roles under unique conditions. As requirements change, so too must training. 

"During a 2006 deployment to Afghanistan, I found that the Air Force and the Navy were playing a large part in the forward operating bases to supplement the Army and the Marines. So training needs to change with the evolving situation in the combat zones, so we give our airman and officers the best training and equipment to do the job. That's why we train at home, before heading into theater," said Col. Costello. 

The Air Force and the Air National Guard require the 103rd Airlift Wing to perform an ORE every year in preparation for MAJCOM graded Operational Readiness Inspections that take place every five years, but these exercises are just one of the avenues the unit has to prepare for combat. 

"Our time is critical, and we need to be able to do our Air Force specialty training along with our ancillary training and these required exercises," said Col. Costello. 

Meaningful training opportunities require a great deal of time and effort to ensure proper preparation. The Exercise Evaluation Team (EET) trains for several months prior to the ORE to prepare them to properly assess the unit's level of readiness. Once that training is completed, a detailed exercise scenario is written to ensure all the required training goals are accomplished. This scenario also serves as the basis for the overall unit evaluation after the ORE is completed. 

"I would like to thank everybody that participated in the exercise and the EET for conducting a quality training and assessment opportunity. The ORE is not just something we have to do per Air Force instructions, it's something we need to do to ensure our future as a combat-ready organization," said Col. Costello.