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AS13 offers training for operations planners | Chicago Composite Squadron

AS13 offers training for operations planners

AS13 offers training for operations planners

Posted 6/3/2013   Updated 6/3/2013
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by Mary McHale
AFNORTH Public Affairs

6/3/2013 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Ardent Sentry 13, 1st Air Force’s (Air Forces Northern) annual disaster response exercise, proved to be a potent training platform for AFNORTH’s operations directorate planners (A3X).

“For this exercise, we had more training going on than in any of the past exercises I have participated in,” said John Poreider, order writer and trainer. “We had a total of 16 personnel getting training in the future operations cell (FOC) as FOC chiefs, FOC planners, or FOC order writers. Levels of proficiency of the trainees varied from the very first phase of training, to fully trained members who were participating in their first exercise/contingency.”

He added that people who received training included AFNORTH/A3X permanent-party personnel (military and contractor), AFNORTH permanent party personnel outside of A3X, and 286th Air Support personnel here TDY for the exercise.

While day-to-day A3X activities include tracking operations, plans, and force requirements, when there is a contingency, whether real world or exercise, the FOC stands up. That’s also when FOC members serve as crisis action liaisons, working from the situation room in the 601st Air and Space Operations Center. From there the cell generates various types of orders, monitors requests for forces, and coordinates requirements with other CAT members.

But this exercise was not only a training opportunity, it was also conducted in a compressed 12-hour daily schedule, a departure from past 24/7 exercise schedules, because of Department of Defense budget constraints.

Deb Skelton, began the exercise as a future cell observe and said she found the amount of activity required during the reduced hours enhanced the training schedule. But she quickly switched gears to being a real-world FOC chief when the Oklahoma tornado struck.

“I felt the reduced hour scenario presented more opportunities to learn and offered a better training opportunity for our folks and the folks from the 286th Air Support Squadron,” Skelton said.

Maj. Dawn Junk, CAT director, agreed.

“This exercise was the first time we used a 12-hour training period versus a 24/7 method,” Junk said. “Having the daily duration be a 12-hour day translated into a tremendous increase in process training with the ability to refine instantly. I found that favorable considering we had a large amount of new personnel supporting the exercise and the real-world event.”
Of course, the exercise was not without its challenges as well.

For Junk, it was communication.

“Often during these events, the message is lost because of lack of communication or delivery of message,” she said. “To overcome this possible uncertainty, I offer plenty of opportunity to ask questions and attempt to document all required information to reference if necessary.”

For Mike Beavers, who worked global force management issues for the exercise, the primary challenge was the real-world start-stop nature of the exercise while the exercise scenario progressed as if there were no breaks. But he said that issue was solved by a daily morning review of the previous evening’s events, orders and Northern Command updates to get back up to speed.

But overall, the A3X cell felt good about the training quality provided.

“The exercise went well,” Poreider said. “Quality training was provided to all of our trainees and as a bonus, we started working on improving our processes and our checklists.”

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