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Support teams test skills at silver flag

Senior Airman John Jackson, 180th Fire Protection, returns a ladder to the rescue truck after a successful F-15 pilot extraction while participating in the Silver Flag training exercise at Tyndall AFB, FL in July, 2009.

Senior Airman John Jackson, 180th Fire Protection, returns a ladder to the rescue truck after a successful F-15 pilot extraction while participating in the Silver Flag training exercise at Tyndall AFB, FL in July, 2009.

A firefighter from the 180th stands by while the P-19 Crash truck simulates putting out spot fires while participating in the Silver Flag training exercise at Tyndall AFB, FL in July, 2009.

A firefighter from the 180th stands by while the P-19 Crash truck simulates putting out spot fires while participating in the Silver Flag training exercise at Tyndall AFB, FL in July, 2009.

Swanton, Ohio -- As Senior Airman Lindy Runion, 180th Readiness and Emergency Management Journeyman, prepared to leave for a deployment to Silver Flag in November 2009, she knew it would be different than any other she had had in the past. Before setting foot on the exercise site, she packed her A-bag and C-bag, and also prepared to be living outside for a week straight.

"Before I left I had to think about being ready to live in a tent in a realistic environment. It ended up that there were very few simulations," said Runion. "It was very intense."

In a wooded 1,200-acre site at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Airman come together for contingency training where combat support teams interact and test their skills in a realistic environment.

The deployment scenario is played out several times a year here and at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and Kadena AB, Japan, also. For the 180th, Civil Engineering personnel have deployed to Silver Flag on four separate occasions in 2009."Silver Flag is a civil engineer, services, finance, contracting, communications and mission support certification exercise program," said Lt. Col. William K. Giezie, 180th Fighter Wing Civil Engineering Squadron Commander, who participated in the exercise in July, 2009.

"Although it is voluntary for many sections, it is a mandatory and SORTS reportable requirement for civil engineers and services personnel. For CE personnel, this seven-day program certifies our personnel to perform war-time tasks as established by the Civil Engineer Readiness Board. CE personnel are required to attend this type of training every 45 months."

The exercise is a weeklong mission support operation which focuses on integrating various support areas into a combined arms team. The exercise focuses on preparing for and bedding down an incoming aviation force at a bare base location, said Giezie. Once the bare base is established, the exercise then focuses on mission support operations and base recovery after attack.

"From a CE perspective, we developed the bed down plan, led the convoy effort, and then established billeting and operational facilities," said Giezie. "CE forces then provided overall command and control of all deployed personnel and unit's needs to establish the bare base location."

The focus for the 180th CES was around bed down planning and execution, convoy movements, base fire protection and emergency management operations all in a contingency environment, said Giezie. Also key for participants was an opportunity to prepare for the wing's upcoming ORI in 2010. "Although our deployed teams have been relatively small to Silver Flag, we always provided the core leadership component," said Giezie.

"This gave us the unique opportunity to provide many of our members the command and leadership experience that we would not be able to accomplish if we sent the entire unit as a whole."

Another small team, 18 firefighters and two command personnel, deployed to the Tyndall Silver Flag Dec. 6, 2009. Upon arriving into the contingency area, crews accomplished the mission of setting up a deployed fire department.

"Crews not only set up the fire department, but responded to simulated emergencies such as F-15 aircrew egress, live fires on a helicopter and small frame fighter, C-130 live fuel fire burn, search and rescue structures, search and rescue for a downed aircrew, mass casualty, a mobile aircraft arresting system rewind, and all kinds of war skills exercises," said Master Sgt. Brian Rozick, Assistant Fire Chief of Training for the civil engineering squadron.

"Personnel had less than a week to integrate and accomplish the entire mission of developing the contingency location to accept inbound aircraft as soon as possible."
Firefighters were able to utilize equipment they do not normally use, such as additional fire apparatus and communications systems, said Rozick.

"Most importantly, firefighters were able to participate in live burns in a live fuel pit," said Rozick. "This training is unique to only a few areas around the Air Force. The live fuel fire is a controlled environment as much as possible, as it is situated in a pit of water. Once the fire is lit, crews absolutely have to extinguish it and use all the skills of firefighter survival. This training was some of the best live fire training available in the Air Force."

Runion, Giezie and Rozick hail the opportunity that Silver Flag provided for civil engineering forces to come together and work as a cohesive team and accomplish a true CE mission.

"Coming together with people from all over the world and getting the job done in such a short period of time made it such a unique experience," said Runion.

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