Hanscom holds first BRE of 2007

Hanscom AFB -- Maj. Andrea Psmithe, 66th Contracting Squadron commander, reads Air Force Manual 10-100  during the January Base Readiness Exercise at Hanscom’s Camp Patriot Jan. 26. Hanscom’s “deployed troops” experienced in-the-field conditions at Camp Patriot, an area designed to simulate combat conditions. Hanscom will hold BREs each month until the Operational Readiness Inspection in June. U.S. Air Force photo by Jan Abate

Hanscom AFB -- Maj. Andrea Psmithe, 66th Contracting Squadron commander, reads Air Force Manual 10-100 during the January Base Readiness Exercise at Hanscom’s Camp Patriot Jan. 26. Hanscom’s “deployed troops” experienced in-the-field conditions at Camp Patriot, an area designed to simulate combat conditions. Hanscom will hold BREs each month until the Operational Readiness Inspection in June. U.S. Air Force photo by Jan Abate

Hanscom AFB -- Senior Airman John Hooten, 66th Security Forces Squadron, mans his defensive fighting position during the January Base Readiness Exercise Jan. 26. U.S. Air Force photo by Jan Abate

Hanscom AFB -- Senior Airman John Hooten, 66th Security Forces Squadron, mans his defensive fighting position during the January Base Readiness Exercise Jan. 26. U.S. Air Force photo by Jan Abate

Hanscom AFB -- Gas mask, check; Air Force Manual 10-100, check; complete C-bag, check; wool sweater or polypropylene undergarments and gloves to protect against the cold New England wind, check.

These are just some of the items Hanscom Airmen carried to Camp Patriot as part of the base's January Base Readiness Exercise. Battling temperatures hovering in the single digits with a wind chill of below zero, Airmen practiced combat skills and procedures in preparation for upcoming real-world deployments and the scheduled June Operational Readiness Inspection.

January's BRE was the first of many upcoming exercises designed to test our troops ability to support global operations worldwide, said Joe Lawlor, Electronic Systems Center Inspector General office. "Overall, Hanscom has worked hard to meet the training requirements with a number of success stories," Mr. Lawlor said. "However, there are certain areas, such as Self-Aid and Buddy Care, along with cargo build-up, that need our continued emphasis.

"The best advice for improvement is to practice, practice and practice," he said. "As part of this practice, participants should act with a scene of urgency when performing various tasks."

Hanscom's "deployed troops" experienced in-the-field conditions at Camp Patriot, an area designed to simulate combat conditions that is operated by Civil Engineering Readiness. To battle the cold, Del-Jen, Inc. employees took on the role of host nation support and provided external heat generators and fuel to warm Camp Patriot's facilities.

"The teamwork we saw throughout the exercise was excellent," said Col. Tom Schluckebier, 66th Air Base Wing and deployed troop commander. "Everyone worked together efficiently to overcome the learning curve we faced. There are some areas which need improvement, however, with practice and preparation, I have every confidence that we'll succeed during the June ORI."

Exercise Evaluation Team members challenged "deployers" with AFMAN quizzes. Topics included the functionality and care of the M-16 rifle and M-9 pistol, which members carried at all times, reporting procedures, Self-Aid and Buddy Care and other topics. Members were required to carry their AFMAN with them at all times.

In addition to testing deployed combat skills, personnel back home at Hanscom were also tested on emergency management scenarios. EETs could be seen at various locations throughout the base putting those serving on the home front through their paces as well with scenarios for the Crisis Action Team and Disaster Control Group.

The CAT and DCG, along with first-responders, were forced to deal with a replicated helicopter crash and subsequent explosions with causalities. This scenario required coordination between the Hanscom Fire Department, local first-responder medical support, and Federal Aviation Administration.

Volunteers sporting red hats could be seen combing the disaster area looking for something. These members of the Search and Recovery Team, which is managed by the 66th Services Squadron, were also on hand to participate and assist as the scenario played out. The main purpose of the team is to respond to aircraft mishaps and mass fatality situations where bodies are either intact or otherwise scattered over a widespread area.

The volunteers follow a grid-pattern to search for remains, portions and effects while plotting a grid map as to the items found; any item found is tagged and marked with a stake next to it, said Linda Whitmore, 66 SVS. "We will be training volunteers through various exercises, both upcoming BREs and our own simulated scenarios. There will be a full-training class on Feb. 21, which will include classroom training and a simulated scenario outside, for those interested in volunteering.

The emergency management scenario also tested the lines of communication between those at the scene and the command and control element. "Our DCG continues to improve. I'm very happy with the progress we are making. This exercise was an 'A' in my book," said Col. Bob Boyles, 66th Mission Support Group commander and DCG On-Scene commander.

The Electronic System Center was also challenged with two Wartime Materiel Support scenarios. "These scenario-driven exercises were designed to test an organization's ability to fulfill contingency support requirements," said Maj. Ken Rickert, ESC IG Office.

The 350th Electronic Systems Wing and the 554 ELSW both received two distinct scenarios.

"Both taskings ended-up being led by wing personnel located at [Geographically Separated Units] at U.S. Strategic Command and Maxwell Gunter Annex, Ala. respectively. Both action teams had to work through the challenges of having members across multiple time zones as they worked on coming up with viable solution," he said.

"Both teams were able to secure approval for their proposed course of actions that covered the spectrum of acquisition operations at ESC -- programmatic, technical, logistical, financial, contracting and legal."