Columbus AFB uses new methods to increase Force Readiness

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Beaux Hebert
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

The Department of Defense has made it clear that readiness is vital to being the best fighting force in the world, and Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, has developed new methods to meet the demands of National Defense Strategy while not interrupting the pilot training mission.

Columbus AFB’s pilot training mission is vital to closing the gap on the pilot shortage, so to take time from that would be counterproductive. The 14th Civil Engineer Squadron Emergency Management Flight developed a four-hour training session in February of this year called Operational Readiness Exercise: Ability to Survive and Operate (ATSO).

“It’s an ‘on the go’ type of class,” said 2nd Lt. Riley Quinlan, 14th CES Readiness and Emergency Management flight commander. “Other bases would wait for a full-scale exercise, but with our mission we can’t wait, so this is what we came up with.”

ATSO has the same training objectives as a full-scale exercise. The course is divided into three hands-on training blocks; what to do in a chemical, biological, radioactive or nuclear (CBRN) attack; self-aid and buddy care; and weapon familiarization.

“Ultimately, what we are trying to create is a well-trained and ready force,” Quinlan said. “When the flag goes up and we have to send Airmen from here downrange, we want to be prepared.”

During CBRN training, Airmen don the Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear and participate in a simulated attack. The main objectives covered in this section of training are contamination detection, resource protection, communication practice and decontamination.

The next block of the training is SABC. During this segment, Airmen practice lifesaving procedures that they could encounter while they are deployed or at their home station. An example of the training is how to treat gunshot wounds or re-establish a casualty’s breathing.

The final block of training is a weapon familiarization course. This training does not take the place of actually firing a live weapon, but it is designed to make Airmen more comfortable if the weapon was to misfire. Members of the 14th Security Forces Squadron demonstrate how to load and unload an M9 pistol and an M4 rifle, clear the weapons, and how to safely fix a weapon that has misfired.

ATSO training is Columbus AFB’s way to keep its Airmen certified and ready if the nation called them to arms and simultaneously continuing to create the next generation of Air Force aviators. Instead of a multi-day exercise with all personnel, ATSO has a flexible training schedule. The 14th CES Readiness and Emergency Management can offer courses once a week during peak deployment season or once a quarter depending on the number of Airmen needing to be trainined.

 “What we are able to do is strip down and go right to the meat of the task oriented training,” said James Cross, 14th CES Readiness and Emergency Management specialist. “ATSO ensures that the Air Force doesn’t become complacent when it comes to readiness. A strong force will always be a respected force, the only way to do that is to make sure that our members are trained and prepared for what they might encounter.”