Enemy attack exercise preps troops for worst
by Randy Ray
As the sweat started to condense around the seal of his gas mask, the Airman was relieved the lenses didn't fog over. It would be difficult to find unexploded ordinance he was searching for if he couldn't see very well.
After the sirens stopped wailing and the deafening explosions finally stopped, he and two others had been tasked to search for bombs or mortars near their tent, which could potentially explode at any moment. It was a dangerous job he'd done before and was confident his training would prove useful again in this hostile situation.
It could be a scene straight from the front lines in Iraq. However, it's a scene that has been played out repeatedly over the past months here at Thunder Village in order for MacDill's Airmen to prepare for war and an upcoming inspection.
"The IGX is an Air Mobility Command Inspector General Exercise designed to bring many units together for an Expeditionary Operational Readiness Inspection," said Col. Brian Kelly, 6th Air Mobility Wing commander. "AMC is testing our ability to set up a deployed location and operate under challenging wartime conditions. The 6th AMW is the lead unit for this week-long exercise involving 26 wings, so we have a huge responsibility on our shoulders."
While most of the inspections the wing faces are on home turf, this time around a deployment is part of the package designed to determine the war-time capabilities of AMC.
"We will deploy to Alpena, Michigan, set up a KC-135 and C-5 base and operate under threat of ground and missile attacks, to include simulated chemical weapons attacks," said Colonel Kelly. "We have been working hard ourselves and with representatives of all units involved for several months to prepare. It will be a very challenging test, but we are ready to lead."
Colonel Kelly went on to explain that the IGX/EORI is especially important these days because we are a country at war.
"The situations we will face during the evaluation parallel those our people may face in the very near future. Many wing members are deployed now, and many more will deploy this fall," he said. "Attacks may very well occur at bases our people go to--some already have. We need to do our best to ensure our people are ready to face real world challenges, and ensure our country's security by successfully taking the fight to the enemy." It's this kind of preparation and training which is quickly molding the Air Force into a more lethal and mobile force than any other time in history, and the 6th AMW is poised to confidently take the reigns.