FORT MCCOY, Wis. – Airmen, Soldiers and officials from the Defense Logistics Agency were sent to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, Sept. 7 to 14 as part of Exercise Turbo Distribution 18-02, a Joint Task Force-Port Opening simulation designed to hone joint service interoperability in austere locations for the purpose of opening airfields and forwarding the mobility-centric goals of the Army and Air Force.
Airmen assigned to the 821st Contingency Response Group, 621st Contingency Response Wing, Soldiers assigned to the 689th Rapid Port Opening Element out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, and DLA officials were deployed to the fictitious country of Badgeristan for the exercise.
The JTF-PO team was deployed to demonstrate its ability to arrive in an austere location, build and secure an airfield, receive airlifted cargo, move the cargo via truck to a forward-operating location to be staged for distribution.
The exercise was not without its variables, though. In addition to C-130J Super Hercules sorties dropping real-world cargo and around-the-clock schedule of cargo shipments, the JTF-PO team also had to contend with simulated chemical attacks, attacks by opposing militants and frequent alarms, in order to test the team’s ability to operate under stress, sleep-deprivation and full “battle-rattle,” from ballistic plate vests and helmet to a full Mission-Oriented Protective Posture.
This exercise tests the port-opening capabilities, said Lt. Col. Taylor Johnston, 921st Contingency Response Squadron commander.
“This exercise is just one of four the 621st Contingency Response Wing will be conducting this year,” he said. “Since we have four (contingency response) squadrons within the 621st CRW, including the 921st CRS, it’s vital each squadron stays up to date on its training.”
Over the course of the exercise, 29 Air Force specialties are put through their paces and all are committed to whatever job and whatever problem is put in front of them.
“It’s not uncommon in environments like these to find yourself wearing three or four different hats,” said Capt. Christian Acevedo, 621st CRW legal adviser. “It’s not our job to nitpick over what we’re supposed to be doing—our job is to get the mission done by any means necessary. That’s what being part of the CRW is about and that’s why every single one of us is in full ‘battle-rattle’ right now. We’re a team.”
Contingency response units are self-sufficient and can deploy with all their personnel, equipment and supplies to execute the mission. As a global reach laydown force, the 621st CRW bridges the gap between seizure forces and follow-on sustainment forces. The CRW is prepared to execute the mission for up to 45 days, and once redeployed home, are reconstituted within 72 hours and ready to once again answer the nation’s call.