MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. –
The 908th Force Support Squadron conducted an exercise during the unit’s July super Unit Training Assembly at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, that simulated them playing their part as if the wing were to deploy to deliver humanitarian aid to a fictional local populace.
The purpose of this exercise was for the members of the 908th FSS to practice setting up bare-base operations and supporting contingency operations to a deployed area, said Lt. Col. Mark Morris, 908th FSS commander.
The unit was tasked with deploying personnel, receiving the deployed personnel, assigning command and control procedures, assigning lodging, sustaining contingency feeding, reacting to all warning sounds per Air Force Instruction, and donning Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear as needed. Their leadership even had them attend intel briefings to make the threats feel real so that Airmen stayed motivated and vigilant throughout the exercise.
Each section of the 908th FSS had a specific role in the multi-day exercise.
Personnel Support for Contingency Operations focused on personnel accountability, logistics, in-processing, and out-processing. Lodging services ensured that all those in-processing were assigned to quarters. Food service specialists set up a single pallet expeditionary kitchen that included sanitization stations, tray ration heaters for unitized group rations, and food serving stations. Finally, Airmen from the communications office and fitness specialists provided support by contributing extra hands on deck as needed and acting as non-FSS troops.
All of these shops required on-the-job training to ensure that they were ready for deployed environments.
“You never know when the time is going to come that we are called up to serve, so we do need to be ready,” said Morris.
Part of meeting that readiness requirement meant that troops were subjected to biohazard alerts being called at random times while trying to perform their jobs. One of the instances was when food services specialists were in the middle of grilling meats when a MOPP level four threat was called.
“If we are dropping boots on the ground and we get a [SPEK] up to [specifications] and it’s not working, then what are we doing to troubleshoot it and get it up and running since we likely do not have another one like it?” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Hampton, 908th FSS food services specialist. “Ultimately, we have got to get people fed.”
Having all of the sections within the squadron come together for the four-day exercise was a way to ensure readiness across the entire squadron. Being able to see others in person from different offices was also a way to increase appreciation for each other and the roles they provided said Tech. Sgt. Zachary Gantt, 908th FSS cyber systems operations specialist.
By having the 908th FSS train to support deployed troops in austere environments they are able to ensure that their Airmen are capable of improving readiness and survivability in contingency environments. Also from this training, they are able to strengthen and build new partnerships with culturally complex populations. And lastly, they are able to show that they can be innovative with their resource management by leveraging military contributions and local resources to multiply value and cost savings for participants and the United States.
“The entire squadron did a phenomenal job and I am incredibly impressed and proud to have seen how you all performed,” said Morris. “My hat’s off to everyone.”
Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the 908th Airlift Wing website.