SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --
Combatant commanders often rely heavily on the readiness of
each Department of Defense brigade, wing or fleet, in order to accomplish the
nation’s global defense objectives. This indispensable preparation can mean the
difference between a mission’s success or its failure.
order to ensure the 4th Fighter Wing is adequately prepared to meet the U.S.
Air Force’s maximum readiness standards, the wing conducted a planned, no-notice
mission assurance exercise July 19-21.
exercise scenario, nicknamed Thunderdome, tested the wings ability to conduct a
necessary rapid and appropriate response without any prior coordination.
to Col. Christopher Sage, 4 FW commander, rapid deployment exercises are a way
to ensure the wing’s Airmen and deployment processes are prepared to provide air superiority at a moment’s notice should the necessity
arise in any current or future conflict.
“It is of utmost importance to
our combatant commanders to know that when called upon, we are ready to provide
the air power to meet their objectives,” Sage said. “Here at the 4th Fighter
Wing we have an expectation of being prepared to providing global strike eagle
airpower … anytime, anywhere. This exercise ensures that we are holding
ourselves accountable to that standard.”
As the largest F-15E Strike
Eagle wing in the U.S. Air Force, the 4 FW is often one of the first Air Force
wings called upon to provide air dominance and support for combatant commanders
during major operations. Taking that into account, exercise organizers decided
to provide realistic scenarios based on how the wing was utilized in past
conflicts and how it may be utilized in the future.
The scenario required the 4 FW
to prepare and deploy more than 400 Airmen and more than 300 tons of cargo and
equipment needed to provide F-15E capability and mission support to simulated regional
commanders in an undisclosed area of operation.
“It takes a lot of coordination
and moving parts to ensure we are able to correctly deploy this many Airmen and
equipment in such a short amount of time,” said 1st Lt. Stephanie Teeple, 4th
Logistics Readiness Squadron installation deployment officer. “However, thanks
to the dedication, preparedness and ingenuity of our Airmen, we were able to
complete our deployment requirements, overcome some of our challenges and
identify several ways to improve going forward.”
During the first phase of the
exercise, deploying members were identified, medically cleared, equipped with any
necessary gear and briefed on all information needed to conduct operations in
the simulated area of responsibility.
Once the Airmen and their
associated cargo were processed, the exercise moved into its second phase. At
this time, 16 F-15E Strike Eagles and their associated aircrew simulated
leaving for their undisclosed deployed location. Along with their cargo, support
Airmen, including maintainers, civil engineers, security forces members and
more, simulated transport to the deployed location by several C-17 Globemaster
IIIs, Boeing 747s and a C-5 Galaxy.
While the exercise provided an
opportunity to fine-tune the wing’s deployment processes, it also showcased the
wings readiness in preparing for the potential to rapidly deploy in the future.
exercise provided us the chance to strengthen our procedures and gave our
Airmen realistic deployment experience,” Sage said. “The lessons we learned
this week will prepare us to be ready to deploy tonight, and fight tomorrow!”