Devil Raiders exercise MCA skills during Rainier War

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Christian Conrad
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho – In an alternate timeline, America is on the cusp of war.
Traditional forms of communication? Things of the past. Actionable intelligence? Limited. The nation’s first line of defense? You.

The alternate universe’s name is Exercise Rainier War, and from April 26-30, its 270,000 square miles of tricks, maneuvers and schemes tested the mettle of both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army as it related to their ability to employ air combat capabilities during a time of potentially imminent foreign aggression.

“This exercise is confusing by design,” said Tech. Sgt. Mehalic Blair, 821st Contingency Response Squadron team chief instructor and one of the exercise leads within its Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, location. “You’re in the dark? Good. In a real-world situation, all information is new information. It’s up to us in the present to reconcile and improve our own pain points so we can ensure our success in any eventuality. It’s vital we practice the way we play, and that means being in a state of not knowing sometimes.”

The 821st Contingency Response Group, headquartered out of Travis AFB, California, nevertheless took to their assigned tasks, however spontaneous or unknown, with gusto, performing their jobs flawlessly and, in the process, spinning up a few of their own Airmen on some new capabilities.

“Even on our worst day, we’re ready,” said Airman 1st Class Logan Moore, 821st CRS maintenance journeyman. “Our squadron motto is ‘Partum ordo ex chaos‘ — ‘Order is created from disorder.’ What might fluster another squadron, we just call ‘Tuesday.’ It’s not really in our DNA to run from change — we welcome it, and we use it to become better.”

Moore, who, throughout the exercise, trained two Defenders from the 821st CRS on basic flight line procedures, viewed Rainier War less as a test and more as an opportunity.

“You figure we’re already a squadron that’s operating on the razor’s edge — continually refining, becoming sharper and more efficient,” he said. “That in itself opens the door less for major course redirection and more for fine-tuning. At the heart of the CR mission is our ability to respond anywhere in the world to supply relief and support to whoever needs it. In those instances, mere minutes can be the difference between lives saved and lives lost — and that’s why exercises like these are important for us.”

The idea of “multi-capable Airmen” is one embraced by not only the 821st CRG, but also the Air Force’s newest Air Mobility commander, Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, who in a recent address to AMC Airmen, said “Adaptive and agile Airmen, capable of accomplishing tasks outside their Air Force specialty code, are vital to delivering rapid global mobility in today’s operating environment.”

At the end of the day, it’s a matter of efficiency, said Blair.

“Let’s say I’m only able to bring 100 Airmen with me on a C-17,” he said. “Do I want to bring 100 Airmen who all have a specialized skill and know nothing else, or would it make more sense to bring 100 Airmen who, when I say, ‘Do this,’ say ‘Okay’?

“I do think the CR way of doing things is the future, and if exercises like these are any indication, I’d say they’re proof and then some,” he continued.

Regarding the future, Blair believes Rainier War holds key information for future exercises, specifically the upcoming Mobility Guardian exercise slated for May 15 – 26.

“Working with the Army and augmenting their capabilities with our capabilities, specifically their missile launch systems, really serves to shore up some good interoperability between our two services in future exercises and perhaps, even, engagements,” he said. “With a conference being held next week to discuss the parameters of Mobility Guardian, it feels good to enter into the talks knowing full well where we’re good and where we’re not. I’m excited to see what this new iteration of training will bring for the total force.”