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621st CRW tests ability to advise, direct, project airpower during C-Strike

Airmen assigned to the 321st Air Mobility Operations Squadron, gather in their command and control center at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., during Exercise Cerberus Strike April 27, 2107. Throughout the exercise the AMOS showcased its ability to turn its command and control center to a fully functioning Air Mobility Division capable of supporting any aircrew anywhere in the world. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Liliana Moreno)

Airmen assigned to the 321st Air Mobility Operations Squadron, gather in their command and control center at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., during Exercise Cerberus Strike April 27, 2107. Throughout the exercise the AMOS showcased its ability to turn its command and control center to a fully functioning Air Mobility Division capable of supporting any aircrew anywhere in the world. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Liliana Moreno)

Senior Airman Erwin Fein, an air traffic controller with the 621 Contingency Response Group at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, checks weather data for a landing U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster, during joint exercise Cerberus Strike 17-01 at Savage Army Air Field, Kansas on April 17, 2017. The joint exercise allows members the opportunity to rehearse potential real-world situations, including in cargo uploading and downloading on aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Waggoner/RELEASED)

Senior Airman Erwin Fein, an air traffic controller with the 621 Contingency Response Group at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, checks weather data for a landing U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster, during joint exercise Cerberus Strike 17-01 at Savage Army Air Field, Kansas on April 17, 2017. The joint exercise allows members the opportunity to rehearse potential real-world situations, including in cargo uploading and downloading on aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Waggoner/RELEASED)

Senior Airmen Terrance Daniels an aircraft services specialist with the 621st Contingency Response Group stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, straps down a vehicle from the U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division, from Fort Riley, Kansas during joint exercise Cerberus Strike 17-01 at Savage Army Airfield on April 18, 2017. The joint exercise allows members the opportunity to rehearse potential real-world situations, including in cargo uploading and downloading on aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Waggoner/RELEASED)

Senior Airmen Terrance Daniels an aircraft services specialist with the 621st Contingency Response Group stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, straps down a vehicle from the U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division, from Fort Riley, Kansas during joint exercise Cerberus Strike 17-01 at Savage Army Airfield on April 18, 2017. The joint exercise allows members the opportunity to rehearse potential real-world situations, including in cargo uploading and downloading on aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Waggoner/RELEASED)

Airman First Class Giovanni Jaramillo (left) and Senior AirmanTerrance Daniels (middle), aircraft services specialists with the 621st Contingency Response Group stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, strap down a vehicle from the U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division, from Fort Riley, Kansas during joint exercise Cerberus Strike 17-01 at Savage Army Airfield on April 18, 2017. The joint exercise allows members the opportunity to rehearse potential real-world situations, including in cargo uploading and downloading on aircraft.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Waggoner/RELEASED)

Airman First Class Giovanni Jaramillo (left) and Senior AirmanTerrance Daniels (middle), aircraft services specialists with the 621st Contingency Response Group stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, strap down a vehicle from the U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division, from Fort Riley, Kansas during joint exercise Cerberus Strike 17-01 at Savage Army Airfield on April 18, 2017. The joint exercise allows members the opportunity to rehearse potential real-world situations, including in cargo uploading and downloading on aircraft.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Waggoner/RELEASED)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

Airmen assigned to the 621st Contingency Response Wing exercised their ability to advise, direct and project airpower during exercise Cerberus Strike from April 14-30.

 Cerberus Strike is a contingency response-centric mobility exercise occurring in locations throughout Colorado and Kansas.

The exercise gave contingency response forces, along with air mobility liaison officers (AMLOs) and theater-wide command and control experts from the wing’s 321st Air Mobility Operations Squadron, the opportunity to rehearse potential real-world situations by training alongside U.S. Army Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division.

“The benefit of C-Strike in our wing is that it allows us to bring together all our missions to advise, direct and project air power in concert with our joint partners at the time and place where needed. These skills were crucial to our ability to support Operation Inherent Resolve this past winter,” said Col. Rhett Champagne, 821st Contingency Response Group commander.

Advise

Through their ability to translate and “speak Army,” AMLOs advise supported units on safe and effective use of air mobility assets from the tactical to strategic level. Additionally, they bridge the communication gap between supported units and U.S. Air Force air mobility command and control agencies.

During C-Strike, Capt. Matthew Zahler, a 621st Mobility Support Operations Squadron AMLO stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, explained finding ways both services can get high quality training is one of the main things he does when helping out in exercises such as these.

“As an AMLO, I translate the Army and Air Force training objectives and figure out a way to combine them and create a training plan that both services can benefit from,” Zahler said. “I have come to realize the Army always wants to utilize the Air Force assets and the Air Force always wants to utilize the Army’s, we just have to find a way to make it work.”

Direct

The 321st Air Mobility Operations Squadron from Travis AFB also participated in the exercise to train on directing live flights and providing command and control across several states.

“Cerberus Strike is a great training opportunity for us in the AMOS,” said Capt. Joseph Cziko, 321st AMOS plans flight commander. “C-Strike is a live-fly exercise; everything is real from the weather to any other scenario we may encounter in flight. The AMOS participation in these exercises is through the command post.  The command and control happens electronically, which allows us to manipulate and adjust plans if we need to make last minute changes.”

Cziko went on to explain that having the opportunity to get feedback from actual aircrew members is important for mission planning.

Throughout the exercise the AMOS showcased its ability to turn its command and control center to a fully functioning Air Mobility Division capable of supporting any aircrew anywhere in the world.

Project

A portion of the exercise was to rehearse and demonstrate the joint team's ability to rapidly deploy combat forces to austere locations similar to the ones the CRW recently deployed to. CR Forces from the wing’s bicoastal Contingency Response Groups--the 621st CRG at JB-MDL, N.J. and the 821st CRG from Travis AFB--established and conducted austere airfield operations at various exercise locations in Colorado.

“Because we integrate with multiple users across four diverse airfields, we add many layers of operational complexity just as we saw at Q-West,” said Lt. Col. Blaine Baker, 821st Contingency Response Squadron commander, referring to the 621st CRW’s role in successfully opening of Qayyarah West Airfield in Iraq in 2016, which enabled the Mosul offensive. “In fact, at Q-West we worked with two Air National Guard units, Montana ANG and Illinois ANG, that we had worked with during C-Strike 16-2. This familiarity led to significantly increased safety and operational effectiveness during combat operations at Q-West, as we had established trust and confidence between our respective organizations. Additionally, austere fields such as Red Devil, Pinion Canyon Landing Zone, and Guernsey Landing Zone provide challenging environments for our contingency response personnel as well as the aircrew, and prepare us for the harsh environmental conditions of combat operations.”

During the exercise, CR Forces from each the wing’s bicoastal locations trained on cargo uploading and downloading on aircraft, aircraft engine running off-loads, communications, aerial port procedures and air traffic control.

“I want our Airmen to take away the confidence to do our mission,” Champagne said. “We open airfields and expand airfield infrastructure to make global reach a reality.”

C-Strike not only gives the CRW the opportunity to test their global reach capability, but a chance to test their mission planning ability. 

“We want our Airmen to improve their mission planning skills, to include the deliberate process of pre-deployment logistics planning and execution,” Baker said. “Additionally, we want our Airmen to gain operational experience in unfamiliar, high-altitude environments, and to integrate training with multiple active duty, guard, and reserve partners, to include U.S. Army units stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado.”

Baker went on to add how he wanted the Airmen to hone their ability to survive and operate skills, and to become comfortable wearing their individual body armor and chemical gear for extended periods while operating vehicles and equipment.

The 621st CRW--the only CRW in the Air Force--is a unique, bi-coastal unit whose forces are primarily stationed at both Travis Air Force Base, Calif., and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. The 621 CRW consists of approximately 1,500 Airmen assigned to three groups, 11 squadrons and more than 20 geographically-separated operating locations aligned with major Army and Marine Corps combat units. 621 CRW Airmen, known as Devil Raiders, are uniquely skilled in building partnerships, strengthening the Joint force, and mobilizing the fight.