WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii --
The 459th Air Refueling Wing’s mission is to provide combat-ready Citizen Airmen anytime, anywhere. Reservists here take this standard very seriously and train hard to ensure success in real-world and deployed environments.
Members of the 69th Aerial Port Squadron conducted joint inspection and aircraft load planning with the Army’s 25st Infantry Division at Wheeler Army Airfield, Wahiawa, Hawaii, earlier this month.
“Joint inspection and aircraft load planning are crucial parts of the mobility airlift process,” said Chief Master Sgt. Israel Nunez, 69th APS operations superintendent. “The accuracy and timeliness of a joint inspection, and the documentation of a precise load plan, has tremendous impact on getting war-fighting equipment downrange and ensuring critical safety of flight. If a mobility air shipment isn’t properly inspected; hazardous materials not appropriately marked, packed, and identified; and if a load on an aircraft is not correctly sequenced and balanced; it can have consequential effects on the mission, the aircrew, and the equipment.”
Flying to Hawaii for this specific training afforded Airmen the opportunity to train side-by-side with one of Air Mobility Command’s biggest customers: the U.S. Army.
“Aerial porters across the globe inspect, process, and ship an extraordinary amount of Army personnel and equipment daily,” said Nunez. “The equipment they bring to the fight is unique and oftentimes requires a lot of time to inspect and process. Working with them now, prior to deploying, affords our Airmen the opportunity to train on the inspection of their specialized equipment without any time limitations or other stressors.”
The Army also saw gains in experience for their Soldiers from the joint training with the Air Force Reserve.
“We share equal opportunity in this exercise,” said Sergeant First Class Orlando Jones, 25th Infantry Division non-commissioned officer in charge of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “The skills taught here not only enable our job as the Pacific Command's reactionary force to be performed much easier, we will learn our sister force's mindset. As we all venture to other bases and operations, the skills acquired are also passed abroad. So, in the future, our service will perform flight operations better than ever before.”
To ensure servicemembers experienced the most robust spectrum of learning, the joint forces trained for various scenarios on numerous pieces of equipment.
“Our training consisted of palette building, utilizing a variety of loads, and joint airlift inspection procedures for a variety of platforms normal to Army operations,” said Jones. “We trained on the up-armored high mobility multipurpose wheeled, mine resistant ambush protected, heavy expanded mobility tactical and light medium tactical vehicles.”
Traveling to Wheeler Army Airfield provided a unique opportunity for 69 APS Airmen to train on equipment not often available at Joint Base Andrews, but which they would potentially load in a deployed setting.
“The training on the outsized equipment is going to pay amazing dividends as these large vehicles present a lot of complexities during inspection and loading,” said Nunez. “Our 69th APS Airmen inspect and move an amazing amount of heavy rolling stock while deployed but gain little experience on them at our home station. Training on them now and experiencing each piece of equipment’s unique shipment characteristics will better prepare our team to meet the challenge head-on when we deploy.”
According to Nunez, the mission was a success, with 69 APS Airmen seeing great gains in experience loading various joint operations equipment alongside their mission partners.
“At the end of the day, we want our 69th APS Airmen to gain more exposure to an important logistical function within their specialty and train with the Army in a structured, joint training environment,” said Nunez. “This format is conducive to their learning and affords each war-fighter the opportunity to breakdown critical processes, while exposing them to the intricacies of shipping outsized Army equipment.”