19 AW kicks off ROCKI 20-01, prepares Ready Warriors

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kristine M. Gruwell
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 19th Airlift Wing kicked off their biannual wing-wide exercise at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Nov. 4, 2019.

The full spectrum readiness exercise, named ROCKI 20-01, is divided into three distinct phases, deliberately designed to test Airmen in different ways while honing their overall warfighting effectiveness.

“Being prepared for anything an enemy may throw at us is the key to readiness,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Kelly Franklin, 19th AW director of inspections. “By training against all threats, we are verifying the 19th AW’s capabilities to operate in any contested environment.”

Phase one tests the wing’s ability to deploy to a simulated combat environment while also defending the base from attacks.

Airmen will be tested on their ability to survive and operate within a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear environment during phase two. The radiological portion of the exercise is a new training objective designed to establish readiness within that domain.

Lastly, phase three redeploys participants from the exercise area back to home station and allows them to glean lessons learned through a rigorous hotwash process.

“The exercise is about testing Airmen’s readiness,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Amanda Fitzpatrick, 19th Airlift Wing Inspector General superintendent. “It’s giving us the ability to let the commander know if his wing is ready to deploy in this manner.”

“The 19th Airlift Wing is leading the way in Air Mobility Command for full spectrum readiness,” said U.S. Air Force Col. John Schutte, 19th AW commander. “The 2018 National Defense Strategy prioritized readiness for major combat operations, peer threats and highly contested environments. ROCKI 20-01 will continue building upon our ability to operate in a CBRN environment adding radiological scenarios to our training standards.”

The 19th AW has incorporated another unique facet into the ROCKI called distributed operations, which leverages the ability of combat airlift to provide rapid global mobility through the establishment and resupply of bare bases within a highly contested theater of operations. Approximately 30 Airmen will forward deploy on two C-130J Super Hercules to set up set up operations at an austere airfield in another state, then practice resupplying other bases using mission type orders.

“The installation will test distributed operations in order to help refine this unique operational concept,” Franklin said. “Exercise participants will be tasked to leave a simulated, deployed location— the Realistic Training Area named Camp Warlord — and support operations for approximately 48 hours from a new, more austere location.”

This emerging concept will add to the complexity of the exercise and provide additional training opportunities for the 19th AW to validate wing readiness. While wing leadership is being challenged through complex decision making for exercise participants here, they will also need to focus on identifying appropriate personnel, equipment and supplies to forward deploy to a second location.

“The exercise is testing how we’ve grown since our last exercise as Ready Warriors,” Fitzpatrick said. “The new challenges we’ve put in place develop our Airmen so they have an asymmetric advantage that can be applied to the mobility enterprise and service as a whole.”