LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --
The 19th Airlift Wing held radiological aircraft recovery training at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Oct. 24 and Oct. 31, 2019, in order to hone their ability to provide Rapid Global Mobility within contested environments and prepare Airmen to compete with peer adversaries in every domain.
The purpose of the training is to continue to aggressively mitigate challenges of mobility operations in contested environments through deliberate efforts that fortify command and control systems and enhance aircraft survivability.
“The strategic mindset behind this is if we prepare for it, an enemy is less inclined to use it as a way to make us back down,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Trimble, 19th Airlift Wing chief of safety, who leads the Readiness Integration Cell. “If we’re unprepared and we don’t have the capability to get our people and move them then the adversary may be bold enough to think they have a viable nuclear option.”
The scenario for the training was for aircraft to simulate flying into a radiological environment using the appropriate protective gear. Personnel on the aircraft were then met at the flight line with trained professionals to help them get the care and decontamination they would need, as well as decontaminate cargo and the aircraft.
This training included efforts from the 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 19th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, 19th Civil Engineer Squadron, 19th Logistic Readiness Squadron, and 19th Operations Support Squadron.
“We get to work with a lot of different people on the base,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Santino Cozza, 19th OMRS bioenvironmental engineer. “It shows the unity of the Air Force. You have everyone with their different missions all coming together to ultimately return Airmen and equipment safely to the mission.”
During the training, Airmen from the 19th OMRS Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight used equipment to detect and monitor radiation, giving them real-world practice for this type of scenario.
“The more we practice, train and prepare the better and more effective we become,” Cozza said. “I think it’s good for our Airmen to get used to the type of equipment because it’s not something we use every day.”
Trimble emphasized the significance of using 19th AW Airmen to provide a realistic situation they can learn from.
“We are getting to showcase what we can do and at the same time admit when we need help and look to the experts for guidance,” Trimble said.
The variety of units involved came together to contribute vital mission sets to complete the training.
“One of the important lessons is that it’s not an operations group problem or maintenance group problem, we have to work across the entire base and integrate in ways we haven’t before,” Trimble said. “It breaks down some of the stovepipes that govern how we operate day to day.”
Our diversity as a team of professional Airmen is our strength, from the flight line to the front lines— every member of 19th Airlift Wing embodies the mentality that defines us as Ready Warriors.
“It’s what separates us from our civilian counterparts,” Cozza said. “At the drop of a hat we can take our expertise and bring it to another location and we can apply that expertise there. The readiness component is what it ultimately means to serve.”