412th Security Forces train to succeed in hostile, degraded combat environment

  • Published
  • By Katherine Franco
  • 412th Test Wing Public Affairs

Members of the 412th Test Wing took part in an Operational Deployment Exercise at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Nov. 30 to Dec. 2.

The 412th Test Wing Inspector General prepared scenarios to test Airmen’s skills set, demonstrate their ability to survive and operate under conventional, biological and chemical attacks.

“We test or validate whether folks can perform their mission under stress, whether that be an active shooter, a natural disaster, downed aircraft, etc.,” said Randy Wells, 412th TW IG, Senior Exercise Planner.

Phase one, the Personnel Deployment Function line, also known as PDF, started on Dec 1. The PDF line ensures Airmen are eligible in all areas, including medical, training, and weapons qualifications, in preparation to leave the base. Airmen also verified possession of their Common Access Card, Dog Tags.

“We design the readiness exercises to test the deployment process, as well as the deployers in a simulated downrange environment,” Wells said.

Phase two started Dec. 2 at a “deployed” location on Edwards. Hostile actors at the scene attacked the Airmen while members of the Wing Inspection Team evaluated how the Airmen responded to those scenarios.

“We want to see if those deployers know how to perform their mission essential tasks in what we call a contested, degraded, operationally limited environment; they're simulated in a hostile location with a hostile force that is going to degrade their operations,” Wells said.

“So when we're putting on an exercise, we are an integral part of identifying who the players are. The IG identifies what their mission is for the exercise; We look at who's available to meet that mission, essential tasks were their requirement, and then task that unit to identify personnel to fill those positions on the deployment roster,” Wells said.

To simulate a degraded operating environment, drones were used to simulate a chemical attack on the training area, requiring Airmen to wear their MOPP gear, said Master Sgt. Brooke L. Vaughan, 412th TW IG Senior Enlisted Leader.

The players were then tasked with determining the presence of chemical agents using test kits.

“Those tripods that we have set up, we have a little piece of paper sitting upon the top, and the drones are going to come by and they're going to drop a paintball. Depending on the color, the paint ball will articulate what kind of agent we've come into contact with or that had a drop in our area,” she said.

The deployment exercise reinforced muscle memory and skills to survive in a contested, degraded, operationally limited environment, said Wells.

“I learned a lot for the forward operating base, just kind of seeing the different players and what they do, for my career field, just kind of seeing how much control you have for a sector,” said Francisco Chavez, 412th Test Wing Security Force Squadron, Criminal Investigation Section.

Chavez added that the training was beneficial for non-commissioned officers such as himself.

“When it comes to just kind of refreshing mainly, I had already been exposed to this. This is one of our basic training things, items that we have to actually cross off in our list, but just getting the refreshers is key…especially since most of us are tasked to deploy,” said Chavez.