Ready in a flash: MacDill exercises operational readiness

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Shannon Bowman
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing

An alarm sounds. Aircrews rush to their aircraft, start the engines, taxi to the runway and take flight to carry out their mission.

This is the reality for aerial refueling squadrons during operational readiness exercises, and maintaining the ability for MacDill’s aircrews to operate at a moment’s notice takes base-wide support.

From medical, to maintenance, mission support, to operations, every unit plays an important role in the 6th Air Refueling Wing’s mission each displaying their capabilities during an operational readiness exercise conducted Oct. 21 through Oct. 24 at MacDill.

The 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron was among the first to fire up and begin moving during the ORE, tasked with preparing personnel and cargo for a simulated deployment.

“During exercises we try to execute exactly what we would do in a real world operation,” said Joseph Healey, the 6th LRS installation deployment officer. “From our junior enlisted Airmen to our highest ranking officers, everyone on the 6th LRS team was motivated and highly energized to step up and do their part to support MacDill’s mission.”

For the 6th Operations Group, the ability to get personnel and cargo to where they need to go, all while delivering unmatched air refueling support worldwide is dependent on the operational readiness of Team MacDill as a whole.

“Readiness is a team sport - we depend on the professionalism and expertise of all the units within our wing, to guarantee overall mission readiness,” said Col. Travis Edwards, the 6th OG commander.  “We succeed together.”

Ensuring MacDill’s ORE standards is a responsibility that falls into the hands of the 6th ARW Inspector General’s Office and wing inspection team.  This team takes on the challenge of observing and reporting that practices and procedures are followed as directed by the 6th ARW command team.

“The ORE is a chance for us to challenge and learn from ourselves,” said Senior Master Sgt. Justin Poteet, the 6th ARW IG lead exercise planner. “These exercises are our chance to figure out locally how we need to fight, whenever we are called to go.”

During the four-day exercise, workloads increase, shifts get extended, but Airmen continue to stand ready to do their part to ensure mission success.

According to Tech. Sgt. Tavaris Banks, a 6th Security Forces Squadron flight sergeant, these exercises are a great opportunity to demonstrate how they own the battle space.

“During these 24-hour exercises, the 6th SFS gets to show that we are ready, we are the shield and the first line of defense against any threat to our resources and assets,” said Banks.

Carrying out operational readiness exercises allows each unit on base to showcase their roles and overall contributions to the base mission.

Mobility Airmen are ready to deliver strength every day and continue to improve their capabilities to compete with and deter near peer adversaries and if necessary, win the high-end fight.

“We fight like we train, and it is imperative that we maintain our operational readiness,” said Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Green, the 6th ARW command chief  “These exercises allow us to practice and improve our war fighting capabilities and ensure that we are ready to win any fight, anywhere, at any time.”

For MacDill AFB, supporting national strategic deterrence, while upholding its capabilities as one of the nation’s premier air refueling wings remain top priorities.

Training exercises such as this ORE are critically important to ensuring the readiness of Airmen today and tomorrow. This ORE validates the wing’s constant readiness to deliver rapid global mobility. 

“Delivering unmatched air refueling support across the globe is by no means an easy task, it takes coordination and effort from every unit and every Airman at our installation, through these exercises we will continue to improve our capabilities and our readiness to bring the fight to our adversaries,” said Col. Steve Snelson, the 6th ARW commander.