97 OG Airmen execute Task Force Red Mammoth

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Trenton Jancze
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 97th Operations Group at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, conducted Task Force Red Mammoth at Kelly Airfield, Texas, Roswell Airport, New Mexico and Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, April 25-29, 2022. 

Red Mammoth is a “dynamic agile training event” designed to demonstrate the 97th OG’s ability to plan missions and execute student training at displaced locations in case of inclement weather threats at Altus AFB or other situations that may inhibit the local training mission.

Exactly 18 aircraft participated in the exercise: eight C-17 Globemaster IIIs from the 58th Airlift Squadron, eight KC-135 Stratotankers from the 54th Air Refueling Squadron and two KC-46 Pegasus tankers from the 56th ARS.

Maj. Brian Weeks, 56th ARS chief of student training management, said Red Mammoth showed that the 97th Air Mobility Wing can complete its aircrew training mission effectively and efficiently at other locations that have the appropriate support facilities.

“We’re here to make combat ready mobility Airmen,” said Weeks. “We’re taking our students and giving them a taste of realism at the schoolhouse, being able to do a mission off-station and without all the resources of Altus AFB, before they go to their follow-on units. 

Airman 1st Class Donna Mills, 97th Training Squadron boom operator student, said the exercise gave her the chance to learn in a new, unfamiliar environment. 

“We are not going to always have the comforts of home base,” she said. “This experience allowed me to not only learn what to do from a checklist or class but to have new hands-on training as well.”

97th TRS pilots, loadmasters and boom operators were able to complete student training in-flight to each location. During the week, the 18 aircraft accomplished 25% of Altus AFB’s daily operations in the three off-base locations, while the remaining 75% percent of required aircrew training remained in the local area.

“This type of training is important to the instructor corps at Altus AFB,” said Maj. Joshua Newman, 54th ARS assistant director of operations. “Instructors are able to expose their students to a wider array of topics when going off-station, and it allows us to generate a detachment staff and gain experience with leadership and operations planning roles.”  

Members of the 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron, 97th Security Forces Squadron and 97th Maintenance Squadron supported the 97th OG throughout Red Mammoth. Capt. Thomas Erlinger, 58th AS C-17 detachment commander, mentioned that these supporting units were crucial to accomplishing this mission.

“It’s critical that we’ve taken all the aspects of the day-to-day operations from Altus to keep those skills fresh outside of the normal day of what we’re used to, as well as get those integration touchpoint opportunities that they’re not always getting back home,” he said. “In case a weather emergency comes in or the base has to shut down, bringing all the key players allows us to practice being sustainable away from home.”