Forging our mobility forces

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Oklahoma -- Starting out as a competition, the Air Mobility Rodeo has turned into a large-scale training exercise, now called Exercise Mobility Guardian 2017. Consisting of several different U.S. and international bases and branches, mobility crews faced serval situations they are likely to encounter in the operational field.

Altus Air Force Base sent two aircrews to participate in this momentous training event. This allowed Altus AFB to showcase its capabilities, while gaining increased knowledge of real world operations to pass down to the students of the school house.

“We did some on-call air drop training, which means we don’t know the time or location of the drop zone,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Joe Waechter, 58th Airlift Squadron formal training unit instructor pilot. “Then we would receive the information and verify it while under simulated threats. The whole experience was more advanced then what we are capable of practicing here and we all benefited from that.”

Mobility Guardian took place from July 31 through August 11 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. Altus AFB sent a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III crew and a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker crew along with one KC-135 aircraft to help support and participate in the exercise.

“This experience was invaluable,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Jake Allen, 54th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 student flight commander. “Practicing tactical maneuvers, dealing with injured personnel and being the on-scene commander prepares us to better teach the students and to eventually go back into the operational force.”

The exercise consisted of over 50 units across different bases, either supporting or participating in the event. It was a joint-force effort including most branches of the U.S. Armed Forces as well as international units.

“It was a great opportunity to work with our local and foreign service members on a large-scale like this,” said Waechter. “We have done other exercises on a smaller level with one other branch, but never like this detail and scale.”

The purpose of this exercise was to test rapid global mobility reach, build international partnership, display realistic training based on mission essentials tasks and ensure mission operability.

“Having this realistic and advanced experience gives accurate training to the students,” said Waechter. “It is good to preform operational tactics first hand because, staying in this location, we are kept out of the operation field for long periods of time. This is a great way to verify the training we do and where we can improve for the betterment of the students.”