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CRG Airmen bleed, sweat in exercise

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Daniel Owen
  • 36th Communications Squadron
Andersen's 36th Contingency Response Group took to the training grounds last week at Andersen South as part of its quarterly training. 

This field training exercise was simulated to be in an area of Indonesia for typhoon relief. Relief aid, such as food and medical supplies, was sent to the major airfield in the area. 

"In this FTX, the group focused on setting up a forward distribution site, assessing an area for a landing zone and providing security for the distribution site," said Col. Kevin Kersh, 36 CRG commander. 

Having the distribution sites ensures the main air field doesn't get congested with supplies, the colonel said. 

"It's very hard to distribute these supplies from a single location," he explained. "The idea is as the supplies come in, I farm them out to these distribution nodes which are closer to the people." 

Setting up distribution sites wasn't the only performance goal, however. The FTX also challenged the Airmen's capabilities to locate and operate a landing zone, as well as maintaining perimeter security for the distribution site. 

Currently, the 36 CRG only has a few Airmen who are qualified to operate a landing zone. 

""It is important to have others trained to locate and operate an LZ in case something should happen to one of us," said Master Sergeant Paul O'Daniel, a load master with the 36th Mobility Response Squadron and one of seven people qualified to set up and operate a landing zone. 

To get the rest of the group trained, a landing zone was measured off and marked by bright orange markers. Later, a team was trained in marshalling an aircraft once it has landed. 

The Helicopter Sea Combat 25, also stationed on Andersen, added the component of joint-night training. HSC-25 received training in night landings, as the 36 CRG simultaneously received training in operating a field LZ, according to Colonel Kersh.
The group's last goal was to maintain security at the distribution site. 

"There are differences in providing security for a humanitarian distribution site and providing security for an Air Force Base," said 36th CRG's Airman 1st Class Paul Oates. "Dealing with third-country nationals is totally different than dealing with locals in and around an Air Force Base. I had to learn a new way to deal with locals in general." 

Despite set backs and schedule changes, all the goals set for this FTX were met, said CRG's commander. 

"The lessons learned may not have been new for some people, but the main goal is to pass on these lessons to new people," said Chief Master Sgt. Randall McCormick. "What we continue to learn is that for expeditionary operations, we need to get out to the field more often. It's not that we learn new stuff, we continue to relearn a lot of the same lessons. As you get new folks in a lot of people haven't been assigned to a CRG unit, they've been more focused on their AFSC. I look at it as every time we come out, there are new folks and we relearn lessons we learned previously. Reoccurring training, you have to do it on a regular basis to stay good at it."

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