CRW Airmen exercise, upgrade skills using COVID-19 scenario

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Luther Mitchell
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

Members of the 621st Contingency Response Wing participated in a readiness exercise to demonstrate the capability to operate during COVID-19 conditions while also accomplishing upgrade training June 4-11 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

The exercise focused primarily on training for Contingency Response Element leaders, Mission Planning Cell and Tactical Operations Cell members. Airmen from additional career fields and skillsets also participated in the exercise, as well as Airmen from the 621st Air Mobility Operations Squadron to ensure the exercise was accurately executed.

“Those are some of the key positions that we need when we are in real-world operations, so it’s focused on those areas to get more experience in those lanes,” said Maj. Stephanie Bukowski, 621st Contingency Response Support Squadron director of operations and CRE commander for this exercise.

Before a member can become qualified to lead a real-world contingency, they must complete a certain number of exercises, called “rides.”

Ride one members observe the exercise to understand how a Contingency Response Group operates, and progressively participate in more exercise scenarios until finally the members have earned their position to lead.

“For me, this is ride one to complete my qualification out of four rides,” Bukowski said.

This exercise scenario was developed by the MPC to simulate a COVID-19 support request from an ally country to receive Army cargo to facilitate building a medical facility and evacuate American citizens -- a relevant topic happening now across the world, according to Bukowski.

As the only contingency response wing in the Air Force, CRW Airmen must be ready to respond to different disaster relief and humanitarian aid operations anywhere, anytime.

“Exercises like these are extremely beneficial, because we have multiple Air Force Specialty Codes and CRE upgrades to accomplish, and this provides a controlled scenario to ensure they are prepared to execute the mission,” said Tech. Sgt. Margaret Verica, 621st CRG unit deployment manager section chief and exercise evaluator.

To Bukowski, this exercise has set a new precedent for readiness training at the CRW.

“This is the first time that we’ve done a home-grown exercise to this extent,” Bukowski said. “Normally our exercises have been a few hours and more tabletop discussions of different scenarios. This is probably the most robust exercise we have ever created as a CRG. The experience has been great! It’s as real world as we are going to get where we are not actually deploying and going into the field.”