Rapid Deployment: Exercise tests base’s mission readiness

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --

Combatant commanders often rely heavily on the readiness of each Department of Defense brigade, wing or fleet, in order to accomplish the nation’s global defense objectives. This indispensable preparation can mean the difference between a mission’s success or its failure.

                In order to ensure the 4th Fighter Wing is adequately prepared to meet the U.S. Air Force’s maximum readiness standards, the wing conducted a planned, no-notice mission assurance exercise July 19-21.

                The exercise scenario, nicknamed Thunderdome, tested the wings ability to conduct a necessary rapid and appropriate response without any prior coordination.

                According to Col. Christopher Sage, 4 FW commander, rapid deployment exercises are a way to ensure the wing’s Airmen and deployment processes are prepared to provide air superiority at a moment’s notice should the necessity arise in any current or future conflict.

                “It is of utmost importance to our combatant commanders to know that when called upon, we are ready to provide the air power to meet their objectives,” Sage said. “Here at the 4th Fighter Wing we have an expectation of being prepared to providing global strike eagle airpower … anytime, anywhere. This exercise ensures that we are holding ourselves accountable to that standard.”

                As the largest F-15E Strike Eagle wing in the U.S. Air Force, the 4 FW is often one of the first Air Force wings called upon to provide air dominance and support for combatant commanders during major operations. Taking that into account, exercise organizers decided to provide realistic scenarios based on how the wing was utilized in past conflicts and how it may be utilized in the future.

                The scenario required the 4 FW to prepare and deploy more than 400 Airmen and more than 300 tons of cargo and equipment needed to provide F-15E capability and mission support to simulated regional commanders in an undisclosed area of operation. 

                “It takes a lot of coordination and moving parts to ensure we are able to correctly deploy this many Airmen and equipment in such a short amount of time,” said 1st Lt. Stephanie Teeple, 4th Logistics Readiness Squadron installation deployment officer. “However, thanks to the dedication, preparedness and ingenuity of our Airmen, we were able to complete our deployment requirements, overcome some of our challenges and identify several ways to improve going forward.”

                During the first phase of the exercise, deploying members were identified, medically cleared, equipped with any necessary gear and briefed on all information needed to conduct operations in the simulated area of responsibility.

                Once the Airmen and their associated cargo were processed, the exercise moved into its second phase. At this time, 16 F-15E Strike Eagles and their associated aircrew simulated leaving for their undisclosed deployed location. Along with their cargo, support Airmen, including maintainers, civil engineers, security forces members and more, simulated transport to the deployed location by several C-17 Globemaster IIIs, Boeing 747s and a C-5 Galaxy.

                While the exercise provided an opportunity to fine-tune the wing’s deployment processes, it also showcased the wings readiness in preparing for the potential to rapidly deploy in the future.

                This exercise provided us the chance to strengthen our procedures and gave our Airmen realistic deployment experience,” Sage said. “The lessons we learned this week will prepare us to be ready to deploy tonight, and fight tomorrow!”

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