148th FW Airmen participate in Silver Flag Exercise
By Staff Sgt. Paul Santikko, 148th Fighter Wing
/ Published March 08, 2012
MARIETTA, Ga. -- Airmen from the 148th Fighter Wing Force Support Squadron participated in a week-long contingency operations training exercise from February 18-25 at Dobbins Air Reserve Base.
Twelve members of the 148th FW, Force Support Squadron (FSS) departed for Dobbins Air Reserve Base (ARB) to participate in Silver Flag, a vital training exercise that provides up-to-date field practices for bare base set up in contingency operations. There are currently four Silver Flag training sites available, each site consisting of different training types. Dobbins ARB focuses on the FSS's Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC). Silver flag at Dobbins ARB consists of: one day of introductory briefing/assignments, four days of class room and hands on training, a full day field exercise, and a case study-end briefing. To maximize real-world situations, other units AF wide train together. Airmen are split up into four different functional areas that support the mission, and then given assignments that pertain to their areas. Because so much is fit into a week's time, members work 14-hour days to finish their assigned tasks.
For many new Airmen, it is their first chance to see how FSS operates in the field. The training's curriculum focuses on what happens in the first thirty days of the mission; from boots on the ground, to planning past day 30. Although the curriculum lasts only a week, all participants are trained in on the latest field shelter construction, field feeding operations, and mortuary/search and recovery procedures.
"It is a lot to take in, but it is amazing to see such great results in such a short time," said Tech. Sgt. Beau Davidson.
The environment is similar to what Airmen can expect down range. "There is a lot asked of us in such a short time, but working as a team was the biggest thing that helped us accomplish so much during the week," explained Davidson.
Because the training takes place with several different units working together, Silver Flag offers a diverse mix of people and resolutions to the various challenges that arise throughout the week. 148th FW FSS Commander and Silver Flag participant, Lt. Col. Mark Vavra, found this point especially beneficial.
"It is the opportunity to train, and work with different units from varying backgrounds throughout the Air Force that provides the 148th with critical contingency operational success," said Vavra. "We come to the table with our own solutions, but it is vital to work first hand with others in order to improve our own training."
According to Senior Master Sgt. Roland Schaefbauer, "the training cycle for Silver Flag is 36 months, it is important that we keep members current, especially if we are in an AEF rotation. The purpose is to maintain readiness for contingency operations, and being up-to-date and ready for deployments is extremely important. Operational Readiness is critical to the success of the FSS."
The training exercise was a success for the Airmen, especially Staff Sgt. Kevin Jackson and Senior Airman Holly Kneisl of the 148 FW FSS. They were recognized for scoring high marks on the Contingency Operations Exam (90% and above).