Expeditionary Course teaches CRG mission, capabilities to Airmen

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
  • U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center Public Affairs
Originally started in January 2007 under a different name, the Mobility Operations School's Contingency Response Mission Orientation Course has grown into a training venue where more than 500 Airmen have trained for roles in a contingency response unit.

"Our first class, first called the Contingency Response Group Formal Training Unit, had about 30 students and we were just building up the curriculum," said Master Sgt. David Oliver, a CRMOC instructor and one of the original cadre when the course began. "Now we are flowing and have a good core of instructors and curriculum that's really helping Airmen new to these kind of units."

Sergeant Oliver said the core curriculum accentuates the initial air base opening mission, but it also reflects other CRG mission areas -- expeditionary air mobility support and Joint Task Force-Port Opening, or JTF-PO.  "JTF-PO is the wave of the future," he said.

Sergeant Oliver added the evolution of JTF-PO started with lessons learned from Air Force CRG humanitarian response Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Pakistan in 2005.

"Those operations put the spotlight on the need for JTF-PO," Sergeant Oliver said. "In a CRG, and even before that with the air mobility operations group, the units were successful in opening air bases for strategic movement of cargo and personnel. What we learned from Katrina and the Pakistan earthquake response was we could get a lot of stuff into the air field, but we couldn't get it out to other areas where it is really needed.

"That spawned JTF-PO," Sergeant Oliver said, "and now we join up with the Army who can bring in the trucks and the logistical capability to move the supplies forward."

Besides teaching the evolving doctrinal concepts of JTF-PO, Sergeant Oliver said the course helps students learn some of the basics of expeditionary life -- such as building tents or driving a high-mobility, multi-wheeled vehicle, or HMMWV.

"In this course, we stress first they need to be experts in their field," Sergeant Oliver said, "but equally important, we stress they need to work as a team, to get out and do things beyond their normal functional duties to support the overall mission."

Sergeant Oliver said being a "team" is the most critical aspect of a successful contingency response unit and that's why we place a lot of emphasis on the CRG "team" during the two weeks of CRMOC training.

"We stress teamwork in our whole course," Sergeant Oliver said. We don't stand up and say, 'aerial porters be aerial porters,' or, 'security forces be security forces,' we tell them to work to be a successful CRG -- be that successful team."

If you ask Staff Sgt. Milton Cobo and Senior Airman Nestor Rivas, both members of the newly-formed 108th Contingency Response Group on McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., and students in CRMOC 2008-E, they'll tell you it will be teamwork and training in courses like CRMOC that will help their unit achieve its initial operating capability.

"One of the reasons I wanted to be in the CRG was because I like the concept of everybody working together," Sergeant Cobo said. "I like the idea of working with and helping everybody out. The CRMOC helped me understand a lot more about types of equipment and career fields I knew nothing about. For example, the maintenance or aerial porters in a CRG might not know as much about weapons as security forces like me, and likewise, we don't know about a lot about their equipment. It's about the shared knowledge we get from each other that helps and this course builds on that."

Airman Rivas said CRMOC is not only about the teamwork, but also learning the basics of a CRG unit -- kind of like "CRG 101."

"The course is very informative," Airman Rivas said. "When I was first asked to join the CRG, we were in Iraq and I said, 'Sure, I'll do it.' But the fact was, when we first came into the CRG, we really didn't know much of what the CRG was about except that we were going to be training and learning each other's jobs. Until we got here for the training, we didn't know exactly was what the mission was. Now, thanks to the course, we have a greater understanding to move forward."

Sergeant Oliver said the CRMOC, along with related, advanced versions of this kind of training is completed in the MOS's Contingency Response Branch - now less than a year old. He said this course, and the others, will keep evolving.

"Our instructors are great and have a lot of experience ," Sergeant Oliver said. "Over time this course has gotten better but we have a long way to go to where we want it to be. Since we're the only place in the Air Force that teaches CRG-specific training, we want to make it better for the sake of preparing our Airmen for the unique and tough work it takes to be in a contingency response unit . It can only get better from here."

To learn more about the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center and courses like this, go on-line to http://www.expeditionarycenter.af.mil or to the USAF EC Home Page on the Air Force Portal.