Civilians step up to play during ORE
By Robin DeMark, 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 18, 2006
SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --
Civilians stepped up to volunteer for additional duties supporting the Operation Readiness Exercise held on base last week.
For the civilians, participating in the exercise meant being a part of the 4th Fighter Wing readiness team; for the military, it meant additional manpower and help preparing warriors for a simulated war zone.
"The wing sent out a basewide request for civilian volunteers to participate in the ORE to compliment the military by providing consistency and continuity in the non-play area," said Dennis Heath, 4th mission support squadron, management analyst. "Working in our Phase II Transition Area is an excellent opportunity for civilians or military personnel not normally involved in these exercises to help the wing prepare for our upcoming Operation Readiness Inspection."
Before military members can enter the play area or simulated war zone at Base X, they must process through the transition area to have their uniform inspected, pick up their meals and receive critical information for the battlefield. That's where civilian volunteers from the 4th Civil Engineer Squadron jumped at the opportunity to provide additional labor.
Upon entering the transition area, Penny McLauchlin, a 4th CES administrative assistant, works with other civilians to help facilitate in-processing of active duty members. Members are checked to ensure their uniform has correct name identification, and they have proper field gear and survival equipment.
"We make sure they have chemical testing paper, decontamination kits, green duct tape, field literature, canteens with water and a fully equipped gas mask carrier," Mrs. McLauchlin said. "If their uniforms are not properly buttoned, zipped and buckled during processing, they become a fatality when Base X falls under attack."
Following the inspection, civilians conduct a white board briefing to review alarm signals, duress words, MOPP levels and chemical warfare codes. Explanation of color-coded bus routes, workstations and reporting procedures are reviewed, giving Airmen an opportunity to ask questions and clarify information.
The final stage of processing the military involves personnel accountability in order to verify, document and color code everyone before entrance to Base X. The civilians make sure military members have what they need as they move through the processing line.
"We have streamlined and simplified in-processing using an ID card scanner which enables us to track everyone in the area of responsibility," said Staff Sgt. Marisa Lewis, outbound personnel NCO-in-charge. "Prior to this automated system, Airmen would have to wait in long lines for several hours."
Airmen are required to swipe their ID cards when completing their assignment and exiting the war zone. The transition area is critical in preparing for and maintaining operational readiness during wartime.
"Civilians have the opportunity to get closer to the fight without being in harm's way while contributing to the wing's mission by supporting the war machine," Mr. Heath said. "We hope more civilians will consider volunteering for upcoming OREs between now and January.
By getting civilians trained in readiness exercises at this level, we can guarantee manpower consistency, reliability and commitment to mission success for the 4th Fighter Wing - it will continue to echo the 'one team, one fight' mentality."