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Small contingency response team makes big impact in Swift Response 16

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Joseph Swafford
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing
The buzzing of C-130 Hercules and CH-47 Chinook helicopter propellers could be heard throughout the Bydgoszcz Airport as a contingency response team loaded and unloaded cargo from the aircraft during exercise Swift Response 16.

The small team of Airmen came from the 821st Contingency Response Group at Travis Air Force Base, California, and the Air Force Reserve Command’s 512th Airlift Control Flight at Dover AFB, Delaware. Working out of an old fighter aircraft hangar, they kept the exercise flowing by assuring airborne forces and their cargo smoothly transitioned through the airport.

One of the premier military crisis response training events for multinational airborne forces in the world, the exercise had more than 5,000 participants from 10 NATO nations and took place at multiple locations in Poland and Germany.

"We are the command and control; we receive aircraft and make sure they can deliver the cargo and passengers to wherever it is needed," said Tech. Sgt. Mitchell Thompson, a 921st Contingency Response Squadron ramp coordinator instructor.

"We will be extracting the jumpers from the drop zone as they roll into our station as well as the other CRT location in Poland," said Master Sgt. Brian Beaty, the 921st Contingency Response Squadron CRT chief. "The goal is to get them out of Poland and back in Germany so that they are ready for the next phase of (Swift Response) 16."

CRTs are one of the smaller command and control elements within the 621st Contingency Response Wing, so it takes every Airman pulling their weight to ensure the mission is a success.

"What we do to make this size team work is a majority of members of the team pull double duty," said Master Sgt. Brian Beaty, the CRT chief of the 921st CRS. "The mindset that we have throughout the CRW is let’s get the mission done. With that in mind it might not be my job per se but I am going to go out and put my hands on that equipment that needs to be moved and move it, set it up, whatever needs to be done so that at the end of the day we are ready to operate.

“Most of the Airmen in the CRW, with the mindset being the way it is, you don’t even have to ask. Airmen all up and down the team just step up and get it done."

The exercise benefited Airmen from both organizations by providing the opportunity for Air Force Reserve and active-duty contingency response forces to work as a team.

"Integrating the reservist into the team has been seamless; they are a ready pool of personnel and material that we can tap into Air Force wide and plug and play," Beaty said. "The specific (job) that they come from and the airlift control flight that they represent complements and works well with the team."

During the exercise, the CRT worked with a variety of C-130 units to include aircraft from Dyess AFB, Texas; the West Virginia Air National Guard; Little Rock AFB, Arkansas; Ramstein Air Base, Germany; and the Royal Air Force. They also worked closely with Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as well as British soldiers.

"It’s very good training and provides the opportunity for the U.S. Army and Air Force to work together with foreign militaries," Thompson said. "It also helps strengthen the relationship between NATO partners and the Air Force."

Beaty agreed, and said that the training exposed Airmen to actual missions they may see in the future.

"This exercise mirrors very well what a real-world operation will look like,” he said. “We have multiple end users that we are working with and helping to move, not all U.S."

For some, working outside the U.S. with different branches of the military and NATO partners would be a challenging task. But for CRW Airmen, it’s business as usual.

"The Airmen on this CRT have handled this exercise very well," Beaty said. "It has worked in true CRW fashion. We pulled from the flights and sections and the disciplines we needed to build the team very fast and we just synced. This team is very cohesive, they have worked together professionally to get the job done.

“They are ready at a moment’s notice for anything and they have reacted very well for all those potentialities."