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178th improves combat readiness with Alpena exercise

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Lou Burton
  • 178th Public Affairs
The 178th Fighter Wing improved combat readiness as more than 300 Guardsmen attended training, team building events and an Operational Readiness Exercise in Alpena, Mich., June 9 to 13.

"Our objective for the ORE was to refresh the wing on Ability to Survive and Operate," said Maj. Kimberly Fitzgerald, 178th Director of Inspections.

The training simulates an excelled war-time environment that presents possible scenarios that could occur in a combat zone.

"In addition to performing regular duty functions, Airmen also learn measures for identifying unexploded ordinances, shelter hardening, post attack reconnaissance sweeps and the protection of assets," said Fitzgerald.

The exercise provided an element of surprise for Airmen. As alarm signals required Airmen to quickly don their chemical protection suits and gas masks.

"You can read your Airman's manual, but to actually put on the protective suit and mask while performing your job is a much better learning experience," said Fitzgerald.

The application of performing the tasks was also appreciated by the participants.

"During the exercise we encountered scenarios pertaining to finance and ATSO," said Tech. Sgt. Shannon Zavada, 178th financial specialist. "I have not experienced an ORE like this before. The hands-on training really helps to understand how to handle these situations when we deploy."

The planning for the ORE began months prior and delivered a critical overview of processes.

"Part of the process for preparing for the exercise was assisting our local inspection team with developing assessments of the Airmen participating in the exercise," said Lt. Col. Ann Coghlin, 178th Mission Support Group Deputy Commander. "We also prepared for the exercise by conducting table-top exercises where we talked through various possible scenarios and developed responses."

The preparation has added benefits to the participants, other than learning their perspective roles.

"The benefit of the exercise is the overview the participants get to see. Each time they communicate information through their chain; there is a ripple effect each office has on one another," said Coghlin. "Being able to see how important communication can be in effecting the mission is a critical part of this exercise."

Another important part of the experience was having the right attitude and a willingness to learn.

"The attitudes were great," said Coghlin. "Some people said they even had fun during the exercise, but everyone said they learned something. "