JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas —
More than 40 Air Force members from across Joint Base San Antonio came to JBSA-Randolph’s Camp Talon Jan. 18 for evaluation of the skills that prepare them for deployment.
The Operational Readiness Exercise/Ability to Survive and Operate was the first of 12 sessions planned on Tuesdays and Thursdays through March 1 at Camp Talon, the JBSA location’s combat readiness training area. ORE/ATSO exercises are also scheduled at JBSA-Camp Bullis’ Camp Shadow.
“The purpose of the exercise is to evaluate the ATSO training that JBSA Air Force personnel receive,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Dion, 502nd Air Base Wing Inspector General NCO in charge of wing exercises. “The exercise consists of a simulated deployment from locations around JBSA to Camp Talon and Camp Shadow.”
Dion said each wing is responsible for meeting installation mission assurance exercise requirements throughout the inspection cycle in accordance with Air Force Instruction 90-201. The evaluations planned at Camp Talon and Camp Shadow reflect the Air Force’s re-emphasis on OREs.
“It’s readiness training,” said Army Col. Lee Flemming, 502nd Air Base Wing vice commander and JBSA deputy commander, who visited Camp Talon. “The purpose of the exercise is to be prepared to deploy and practice our wartime mission.”
Exercise participants, who represent diverse career fields, began the day with a safety and intelligence threat briefing. After receiving combat gear, they were evaluated on their ability to perform ATSO skills at five evaluation stations and, later in the day, displayed their readiness for air and ground attacks. The exercise concluded with refit and redeployment back to their home stations.
The skills that are evaluated during the exercise include self aid and buddy care; chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives defense; the use and care of weapons; and response to attacks.
Tech. Sgt. Leviel Smith, 902nd Security Forces Squadron NCO in charge of standardization and evaluation, stressed the importance of basic weapon skills.
“If they get into a fire fight, it’s important they know how to keep their weapon operational,” he said. “It can save their lives.”
In addition to the Air Force members evaluated for their ATSO skills and combat readiness, volunteers play the role of the opposition force during the combat phase, Dion said.
“They come from a variety of career fields as well as from our sister services,” he said.
The exercise also includes evaluators from the 502nd ABW Wing Inspection Team who assess participants in their functional areas.
Air Force leadership has placed a renewed emphasis on OREs and combat readiness, Dion said.
“A lot of times you forget about the skills you learned in basic training when you get wrapped up in your job,” he said. “We’re re-evaluating that focus on basic combat preparedness. We want to make sure our warriors are able to survive any threat they face.”