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ORE war games test Andersen Airmen

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Whitney Tucker
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Airmen, civilians and contractors participated in an operational readiness exercise here Feb. 28 through March 4, in order to assess the wing's capabilities and mission preparedness.

Lessons learned from the exercise will be applied in subsequent exercises and implemented to guarantee each Airman's ability to assess, and appropriately react during contingencies, as well as diagnose any weak points in operational procedure.

"Our job is war and the American public expects our military to be ready when called upon and OREs are our way of testing our preparedness and capability to meet that demand," said Capt Jeffrey E. McKamey, 36th Security Forces Squadron operations officer and acting commander. "Exercises are also an excellent opportunity identify our strengths and weaknesses and allow us to develop our training programs and processes to fill in gaps where needed. OREs can be very stressful and demanding, but they are a great way to prepare us to do what we are inherently designed to do: defend our country."

During the five-day exercise, 36th Wing personnel played out a plethora of mission-essential scenarios.

"We were able to test our ability to react to hostage situations, active shooters, bomb threats, suspicious packages, vehicle and personnel-borne explosives," Captain McKamey said. "We also gauged our ability to provide support to other organizations, both on and off base."

Over the past several months, Base senior leadership has noticed an increase in Airmen being more proactive during scenarios.

"I've seen marked improvement not only in security forces, but throughout the base as well," Captain McKamey said. "The hustle and overall teamwork displayed throughout the wing was impressive. We have a lot of new, young, hard-charging professionals who perform a demanding duty. Twelve hours running from place to place or just standing in the hot sun or rain is enough to put anybody to the test, but our team always comes through. I couldn't be prouder of them."

One of Andersen's newest members, Airman 1st Class Justin Czarnecki, 36th Comptroller Squadron financial services technician, participated in the ability to survive and operate (ATSO) portion of the exercise. During ATSO training, Airmen don protective gear and perform safety checks and personnel recoveries.

"ATSO is hard because you're hot, tired and you're trying to make sure you're doing everything correctly," Airman Czarnecki said. "Once it's over, and you remove the gear and take a step back, you realize that you learned a lot."

Because many retain information best when actually performing the task, ATSO training is an effective refresher course for Airmen.

"I went through basic military training less than a year ago, but going through some of the scenarios made me realize that it doesn't take long to forget information that can be crucial in a real world situation," Airman Czarnecki said.

Echoing Airman Czarnecki's sentiments, Captain McKamey learned first-hand the value in conducting OREs and ensuring personnel are on top of their game at all times.

"In August 1990, I was a young buck sergeant assigned to Seymour Johnson and we were in the middle of an ORE when Iraq invaded Kuwait," Captain McKamey said. "We immediately moved from an exercise mentality to a real war mentality and less than a week later, I found myself standing in the middle of the Arabian peninsula doing all those things I had been trained to do. Prior to that, I hated OREs and all those long hours, donning all that gear, the processing lines and alarm conditions. Once I saw how all that exercising prepared us for the real thing, my attitude since has completely changed."