ALEXANDRIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, La. -- Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing based out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, and Travis Air Force Base, California, coordinated air mobility operations during exercise Green Flag Little Rock, Oct. 19-27.
Approximately 106 Contingency Response Airmen participated in the exercise operating out of Alexandria International Airport and the Joint Readiness Training Center near Fort Polk, Louisiana.
“Throughout JRTC 20-01, our contingency response element’s job was to ensure U.S. Army and Air Force resources efficiently flowed into the simulated theater of combat operations,” said Maj. John Zirkle, CRE director of operations. “To facilitate this, we set-up a small base on their international airport’s north ramp. Here, we provided critical command and control, aerial port, quick-turn maintenance, and in-transit visibility functions to the forces headed into theater.”
The exercise not only supported Joint and Combined partners—it provided many Airmen opportunities to advance their contingency response training goals. From aerial porters, aircraft maintainers, command post personnel, contracting and communication officers—built-in training objectives kept things interesting by “injecting” realistic training scenarios designed to test and challenge even the most skilled member.
“For some of our Airmen this is the first contingency response exercise that they have been a part of,” said Chief Master Sgt. Matt Collingridge, 621st Contingency Response Support Squadron Superintendent. “This exercise provided a great opportunity to train some of our Airmen that are newer to the CRW, and for some of our more seasoned CR Airmen to share their experiences and expertise as subject matter experts.”
For Staff Sgt. Nicholas Haddad, 621st CRSS intelligence analyst, it is the first exercise he has been on since joining the CRW.
“It’s been a fantastic exercise! The importance of intelligence is to provide commanders with the information that they need to know in order to make sure that they can get their team to a location safely,” Haddad said. “We had a list of the different types of tasks that we wanted to accomplish out here throughout this entire week, so far everything has been going well.”
During the exercise the team loaded and downloaded tactical vehicles, airdrop bundles, along with a variety of other pallets to support the Army.
“Throughout a typical day, we would “catch” 10-12 cargo aircraft, download their cargo, upload cargo for their next airland or airdrop mission and launch them,” Zirkle said. “We facilitated these operations continuously, providing round-the-clock support to our users. We also supported several real-world cargo missions per Alexandria Airport’s request. We had a lot of fun! In short, this exercise has better prepared our forces to rapidly deploy and support mobility operations in contested and austere environments throughout the globe.”
The exercise also gave Airmen a unique opportunity to enhance partnerships with joint and allied partners.
“The ability to execute mission objectives in contested, degraded, and operationally limited environments with our joint and combined partners is a critical skill that CR Airmen need to develop to prepare themselves for future real-world operations,” Collingridge said. “Exercise Green Flag Little Rock has provided our Airmen a chance to hone those skills while developing relationships with our sister service and multinational partners.”