ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --
More than 30 Airmen from the 644th Combat Communications Squadron participated in exercise Dragon Forge June 12-16, 2017, at Andersen South, Guam.
Exercise Dragon Forge is a 164-hour training exercise designed to teach, train and build combat skills, while instilling the warrior ethos into CBCS Airmen.
“The Dragon Forge exercise is conducted twice a year to train all incoming Airmen on how to build and plan a communication site in austere and semi-permissive locations,” said Chief Master Sgt. William Hebb, the 644th CBCS superintendent.
Day one of the training exercise started with the 644th CBCS team being tasked with setting up a forward operating base with concertina wire around the perimeter. The team experienced simulated refugees fleeing from a demilitarized zone and protestors who were not happy about the U.S. military presence in the area.
“We set up as quickly as possible, but the roving locals hit us very fast,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jered Sledge, a 644th CBCS combat support flight chief. “We ended up having to work through the night setting up defenses.”
As the team progressed into the second day, they started taking small arms fire from simulated combatants. In addition, they were approached by frightened refugees and a mayor requesting help because their village had been destroyed by direct fire.
“This was my most challenging day,” said 2nd Lt. Costin Wolt, a 644th CBCS officer serving as mission commander during the exercise. “There was still a lot of improvements the camp needed and I faced many different challenges on the administrative side. Missions from higher headquarters began coming down and being assigned to us.”
Throughout day three, there were random attacks by enemy combatants toward the base. Airmen then faced a scenario that led to several of them being captured.
“Although one of my scenarios led to my capture, which wasn’t the most fun, I learned a lot,” said Senior Airman Antonio Casillas, a 644th CBCS radio frequency transmission systems technician. “Tempers were rising and people were fighting exhaustion, so the biggest challenge for me was trying to keep morale up and keep everyone in the game.”
The team faced repeated heavy attacks throughout the fourth and eventually word came down that the enemy front lines were pushing toward the FOB. The base was then attacked by heavy forces from all sides, forcing the Airmen to work together to defend the FOB.
“I'm proud of how my Airmen responded,” Wolt said. “They were quick to take action and defend areas that had been infiltrated by the opposing force.”
The final assault marked the conclusion of the exercise. The exercise designed in a way to gradually build along a natural progression timeline. In a real-world scenario, this progression could take days, weeks or months but this exercise was compressed. This allowed for rapid development and growth of the Airmen so they will be more prepared to build and defend a communication site if called upon.
“In the end, this all helps to prepare our Airmen for their real-world mission, which is to rapidly deploy as combat-ready Airmen and communications in support of Pacific theater contingencies,” Sledge said. “This is the training that builds those combat-ready Airmen.”