Exercise helps Robins airmen get combat ready

Robins airmen practice combat scenarios

wcrenshaw@macon.comMarch 4, 2014 

  • Simulated chemical warfare cleanup at Robins AFB.

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE -- Many airmen at Robins have jobs that are not directly tied to combat, but the enemy doesn’t care about that.

On Tuesday airmen from a range of units across the base practiced what to do if they find themselves dodging bullets and bombs.

About 60 airmen relaxed inside barracks-style buildings until the loud boom of a mock bomb triggered an alarm. The airmen had to wait inside until the all-clear came that there was no chemical attack.

As they poured out there were several victims on the ground outside with makeup depicting various wounds. The airmen had to simultaneously tend to the victims while also defending the base. Observers stood nearby and noted airmen’s actions.

“The idea is to try to reduce some of the fog of war that they would experience if they were to go out blind without this kind of training,” said Dave Berry, the chief of inspection and exercise planning for Robins.

As teams dealt with the wounded, other airmen took up defensive positions in the rear of the base and fended off a few attackers coming out of the woods.

The exercise was held at Warrior Air Base, a mock base on the southern end of Robins that includes a runway and a few decommissioned aircraft.

It was the first of five planned scenarios for the day. That particular one didn’t involve chemical attack, but later scenarios would test airmen’s ability to correctly put on protective gear and fight while wearing it.

The day before the exercise, the participants had classroom training to prepare.

Tech Sgt. Rupert Wicks, a fuels specialist in the 78th Logistics Readiness Squadron, said he appreciated the training. He has deployed before, so while it was mostly a refresher for him, he said it still had great value.

“It’s kind of like practicing for playing the big game,” he said. “A lot of this stuff we learn here, it stems from people’s past experience.”

On his last deployment, Wicks actually deployed with the Army and got some Army combat training. The training is increasingly important, he said, because airmen are asked to do a range of duties in the combat zone.

“These days it’s not just ‘your job’ deployments,” he said. “It depends on the tasking and what is required.”

Steven Brown, first-aid adviser for the base, said he liked what he saw as airmen tended to the wounded during the scenario. The first step is to check for breathing, then stop bleeding. Also important is to keep the victim calm.

“From the guys I watched, I think they did really well,” he said.

The training was part of a base-wide emergency readiness exercise that has been ongoing for the past two weeks.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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