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Reservists train, prepare for ORI

  • Published
  • By Capt. Marnee Losurdo
  • 512th AW Public Affairs
Bandaging and splinting injuries, donning chemical warfare gear, securing building perimeters, and clearing weapons was how more than 100 Airmen from the 512th Airlift Wing spent their July Unit Training Assembly.

The training served as final preparation for Airmen participating in this month's Operational Readiness Inspection, which evaluates and measures the wing's ability to perform in wartime or conflicts.

Among those trainees was Col. Elaine Barron, 512th Mission Support Group commander and commander of the Emergency Operation Center for the inspection at the deployed location.

After more than a year of living and breathing ORI, she said she's ready, and the wing is too.

The 512th and 436th Airlift Wings will be evaluated on how well they deploy Airmen and equipment and establish the forward operating base. Inspectors also assess how efficiently Airmen perform their jobs and survive and operate in a hostile environment.

"Our strongest asset is we have a lot of experienced people participating in this ORI," said the colonel.
The average age of a reservist is 39 years old with 15 years of service, according to an Air Force Reserve Command fact sheet.

However, the biggest obstacle for the wing has been the lack of time to train, said the colonel. Whereas active duty forces are here at the base full time, Liberty Wing Airmen only have 39 days in a year obligated for Reserve training.

"It's been a challenge to train everyone in a short period of time, but we are ready to show what an older, more seasoned force can do," said the colonel.

One of these Airmen is Tech Sgt. David Jackson, a 512th Logistics Readiness Flight fuels specialist. He's charged with maintaining and delivering ground and aviation fuel required for the mission.

For the ORI, Sergeant Jackson will also serve as a Post Attack Reconnaissance Team member and is responsible for securing his building's perimeter. As a refresher, he attended PAR team, self-aid and buddy care and weapons training during the July UTA.

"I feel very prepared and confident that I'll do well," said the sergeant, who participated in the Operational Readiness Exercise in April.

"The ORE was a great learning experience, but this weekend was good because the training was so close to the ORI, which puts this information fresh in everyone's minds," said the Air Reserve Technician who spent six years on active duty and joined the Reserve last year. "This is especially beneficial for our traditional reservists who don't get as many opportunities for training."

Unit Deployment Manager training was another emphasis item over the course of the UTA.

UDMs play a critical role in the initial response portion of the ORI grading process, said Capt. Crystal Beach, the 512th Mission Support Group executive officer and ORI participant working in the EOC.

"It's a tough, thankless job but an important one," said the captain, who speaks from experience as she is the alternate UDM for her unit. "They are the entity that push people out the door error-free and bring them back."

UDMs ensure Airmen and equipment are prepared for deployment, make sure they have current deployment records for the mobility line, and the Airmen and their equipment are placed on a flight to the inspection location. UDMs also play a part in the redeployment phase, which receives all personnel and equipment back to Dover AFB.

After a year of intense training and exercises, Captain Beach said she's ready to show inspectors what the Liberty Wing is made of.

"We know our jobs," she said. "We have the experience; we can do this. What it's going to come down to is communication and accountability, whether it's accounting for your people or equipment. That's what it's all about."

512th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Randal L. Bright added, reservists need to be safe while doing their jobs; and remember, a positive attitude can make all the difference.

"I've seen how hard you've worked over the past year, and I am proud to be your commander," he said. "Do the job you were trained to do efficiently, safely, and with a great attitude and you will excel."