Little Rock takes readiness training cross-country

  • Published
  • By 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 19th Airlift Wing removed their protective gear for the last time this week after completing a joint, semi-annual, multi-phase readiness exercise – ROCKI 19-06 – which ran in conjunction with exercise Green Flag Little Rock, March 27-April 17, 2019.

Over 600 Team Little Rock Airmen were joined by participants from; the 114th Field Artillery Regiment; the 60th Air Mobility Wing; the 317th Airlift Wing; the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division; the 43rd Air Mobility Operations Group; the 512th Contingency Response Squadron; the 621st Contingency Response Squadron; as well as members from the Tunisian Armed Forces.

Overall, the exercise involved more than 6,000 combined participants working together to simulate a complex training scenario.

“Combining this exercise with Green Flag Little Rock gives our Airmen an opportunity to train in a realistic, joint environment,” said Lt. Col. Dan Hilferty, 34th Combat Training Squadron director of operations. “These exercises ensure our nation’s peace by forging Mobility Airmen who are a lethal fighting force, ready for war.”

While most of Team Little Rock’s focus was on the ground at Little Rock AFB, many of the exercise participants were spread around the south-central region of the U.S., operating out of various airfields, landing zones, and drop zones, as well as the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

“The footprint of this operation is absolutely massive,” Hilferty said. “The exercise spanned four states, two services, four wings and 17 days.”

The Little Rock-specific portion of the exercise was set up in two distinct phases: first, test the ability of the 19th AW to generate and deploy forces, and once in a simulated deployed environment, assess the ability to project combat airlift to achieve desired effects in the face of aggressive opposition.

Team Little Rock Airmen arrived at the simulated, deployed location – called Camp Cunningham in the exercise, but known colloquially as Camp Warlord – April 5, where they were first confronted with the task of setting up operations and communications in recently-updated cabins.

“Our facilities – specifically the cabins – at Camp Warlord have been upgraded with the help of citizen Airmen from the 189th Airlift Wing here at Little Rock Air Force Base,” said Lt. Col. Michael Stefanovic, 19th Civil Engineer Squadron commander and exercise participant. “These improved facilities make for better, more realistic training for our Airmen.”

Once established in the exercise area at Camp Warlord, Airmen encountered a wide range of wartime scenarios including ground and air assaults, explosives, communication failures, and insider threats.

“While securing a forward operating location against an opposing force, our Airmen have to be prepared to respond to a broad spectrum of threats,” said Col. Gerald Donohue, 19th AW commander. “And in the middle of that, they still have to accomplish our mission, which is to project and sustain agile combat airlift.”

Down the road from Camp Warlord, Airmen were busy preparing to do just that by loading, maintaining and preparing C-130Js for combat operations. Over the course of the exercise, 88 missions produced 260 total flights in which 470 tons of cargo were delivered to landing zones – 85 pallets and 39 vehicles. Additionally, 31 air drops delivered 26 tons of cargo from the skies.

By combining the Little Rock AFB’s semi-annual exercise with GFLR, Airmen were able to experience a comprehensive scenario that realistically captured the range of requirements to be able to provide tactical airlift to joint and international partners.

“Our Airmen participating in the ROCKI are ultimately supporting Soldiers down in Louisiana by generating combat airlift through Green Flag Little Rock operations,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Amanda Fitzpatrick, 19th AW Inspector General superintendent.

Over the course of the 17-day exercise, participants worked to deter adversarial aggression and adjust operations to ensure continued mission accomplishment, which required constant, open communications between different agencies and rapid response to emerging threats and contingencies, all guided by a complex training plan.

“Our team of planners, including the inspector general’s office, the 34th CTS and our intelligence team, worked to make this a comprehensive training event where people learn and can grow,” Fitzpatrick said.

Semi-annual readiness training allows Team Little Rock Airmen to maintain their combat edge by practicing and honing skills that make them more effective at providing agile combat airlift, regardless of the location or conditions.

“While this exercise gave our Airmen the chance to practice critical skills in a deployed environment, it’s really so much more than that,” Donohue said. “The big picture is that we showed how, when confronted with problem sets, we made the right adjustments to be able to continue to project airpower to where it was needed.”