C-17 paves ground for joint training at Fort Riley

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Aaron J. Jenne
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

A C-17 Globemaster III assigned to the 3rd Airlift Squadron conducted semi-prepared landing operations June 25, 2016, at Fort Riley, Kansas.


The aircrew, commanded by Maj. Pat Mitchell, 436th Airlift Wing command post chief, was the first to land a C-17 at the Savage Field landing strip.


Lt. Col. Douglas Riley, 436th Public Health flight commander, said Fort Riley is an ideal location for training. Its vast terrain contains a live-fire range, a shoot house complex and helipads in close proximity to the Savage Field landing strip.


Riley, who previously served in the Navy and Army, led the global readiness laydown team that day. These four-member teams, composed of a biomechanical engineer, flight surgeon, an independent duty medical technician and a public health member, are responsible for providing healthcare in uncontrolled areas while landing strips are prepared.


While the GRL team trained on the ground, the flight crew and a 19-member aeromedical evacuation team conducted aerial training. The integrated active duty and Reserve AE team from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, completed 27 in-flight training events over the weekend.


“Our Airmen made an awesome impression at Fort Riley,” Riley said. “I have to commend the aircrew for such a fantastic job. From the landing, unloading the GRL, taking off, their flybys, it was all unbelievable. It was the talk of Fort Riley about 15 minutes after we landed.”


The crew may have made history by landing a C-17 for the first time, but they did much more than that, they paved the way for future training.


“This is the first time I’ve heard of the C-17 actually landing out here,” said Army Sgt. Ronald Hogge, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. “It’ll offer new training abilities for the Air Force and any other sister organizations to do training and strengthen the United States Army as a whole. The more people that come together, the more diverse the training will be.”


The Army won’t be the only branch to benefit from this joint training.


“If we can train with the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, we’d be able to really experience the full spectrum of healthcare training from initial injury to final care,” Riley said. “They already train by transporting simulated casualties from battlefield to a triage center, but if we can get in there with our GRL and AE teams and a plane using their dirt runway we can complete the patient care all the way to a [stateside] treatment facility.”


Riley added that their involvement in the Army’s existing training programs would provide a venue for both branches to share their experiences and abilities for smoother transition of patient care, repeating the adage, ‘train like you fight.’


Using this approach to joint service training would decrease communication gaps that often exist due to branch-specific lingo, Riley said.


“If you ask me, the biggest push for this type of training is our ability to work in a joint environment,” Riley said. “We work jointly every day in theater; in every place there is war, we are working jointly, but our language is a little bit off. It’s always a benefit to train the way you fight, and the more we do, the more seamless our operations will become.”


The simple act of landing a C-17 may have a much greater impact than could have been imagined, but one thing is for certain, Team Dover will continue to “Deliver Excellence” with every flight.


“At the end of the day, we went and landed on some dirt,” Mitchell said. “When you look at the further reaching implications of what can be gained from that dirt landing, that’s where the real importance lies. We opened up a whole world of possibilities.”