Readiness exercises spur more ATSO training

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  • By Daisy Grant, Staff Writer

Sporadic sounds of guns firing while an alarm pierced the otherwise quiet day built up tension until a voice came over the speakers to initiate the next round of drills.

“Alarm red. MOPP four.”

The alarms stopped, and slowly, quietly at first, Airmen opened the doors of a building, looking out to assess the situation.

They emerged in groups, wearing full Mission-Oriented Protective Posture gear, roaming an area at the Glenwood Training Annex, writing information about unexploded ordinances on clip boards and marking their locations with orange cones.

Airmen who were “exposed to a chemical agent” were treated and moved.

Trainers with bright vests looked on, helping when needed and rating each group.

Once a quarter, Airmen attend Ability to Survive and Operate training to prepare “to survive and operate in a wartime environment,” said Paul Logan, senior exercise controller, 72nd Air Base Wing Inspector General’s office.

“If you watch the news, the world can be a dangerous place and we’re just making sure that our people are prepared for whatever eventuality they may encounter out there in the bigger picture,” Logan said.

Logan said there used to be about 72 Airmen a week in each training, but during the training the week of June 18, there were about 120. In the future they are hoping to accommodate 180.

The latest exercise was just for members of the 72nd ABW. The wing’s commander, Col. Kenyon Bell, said he wants “all deployable personnel” to do the training annually, and the exercise put the wing at 40 percent of that goal, Logan said.

Trainers gave both tips and evaluated the groups, and met after the exercise to go over how each group did.

Lt. Renard Hamlette, 72nd Security Forces Squadron, who was going through the training for the first time, said being able to practice instead of just learning about it in a class was helpful.

“With the two layers of gloves you have on, you actually get to feel what it’s like to not have full dexterity with maybe doing first aid on a casualty or having to talk on the radio with buttons or different things like that,” Hamlette said. “It was really good.”