TRAVIS AFB, Calif.- --
The 60th Air Mobility Wing executed Exercise Golden Phoenix, a large-scale readiness exercise synchronizing full spectrum support from installation partner units to include the 821st Contingency Response Group, 621st Contingency Response Wing, and the 349th Air Mobility Reserve Wing at Travis AFB, California, from May 1-12, 2023.
This series was held in conjunction with the 621st CRW’s Exercise Storm Crow and rehearsed maneuvering the Joint force at tempo with direct support to the readiness exercise (REDEX) executed by the I Marine Expeditionary Force (I-MEF), Camp Pendleton, California.
The I-MEF REDEX sought to demonstrate the skillsets to provide distributed operations across a wide range of terrain and generate combat-credible readiness throughout the Joint Dynamic Force Employment integrating service partners throughout the western United States.
The 60th Mission Support Group demonstrated Team Travis’ support for large force reception, staging, onward movement, and integration (RSOI) operations. The team executed a three-day bed down of more than 340 U.S. Marines and Sailors.
These Sailors and Marines from the I-MEF, alongside 255 Devil Raiders from the 921st Contingency Response Squadron and 35 Airmen from 60th AMW were processed by the 60th AMW Logistics Readiness and Installation Deployment Readiness Cell, through a realistic personnel deployment line exercising all requirements to ready personnel forces.
Additionally, the 60th Maintenance Group (MXG) supported operations for more than 60 sorties within the 12-day period, moving 1.53 million pounds of cargo and more than 700 passengers, deploying personnel to three downrange locations.
“Everyone had some piece of the puzzle to make it work,” said Dale Patterson, 60th MXG, deputy commander. “It’s a Total Force Initiative, between active duty, the civilian workforce and the Reserve workforce. One team, no seam. We could not do this without their help.”
As part of Exercise Storm Crow, the 921st CRS, 621st CRW rapidly deployed to Fort Hunter-Liggett and executed air base opening operations while field testing innovative equipment solutions with industry partners.
“Our largest success was demonstrating the ability to assess, open, and operate airfields in a contested environment with the help of our Joint force partners,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Kniefel, 921st CRS commander. “This capability will be absolutely critical to the future fight, and we couldn’t have done it without the Marines, the 60th AMW, and the unwavering dedication of every single multi-capable CR member on the team.”
The exercise addressed Air Mobility Command’s focus areas to include resilient command and control, navigation, operations and logistics at tempo. The 60th AMW also practiced flexible deterrent and response options, including the ability to land in austere environments and quickly accomplish a mission in dynamic environments.
“The expeditionary air base was tasked with taking over the base from contingency response (CR) forces in order to allow them to project the cluster farther forward. We immediately integrated into the CR’s operating schedule and began manning shifts.” said Maj. Cal San Filippo, expeditionary air base detachment commander. “The team wasted no time.”
The exercise also highlighted the progress of the 60th AMW's multi-capable airmen initiatives, with personnel demonstrating their ability to accomplish tasks outside of their core Air Force specialty code.
“Each Airman had the opportunity to contribute to infrastructure, communications, base defense, and aerial port activities,” said San Filippo. “Airmen within the expeditionary air base were intentionally challenged to operate outside of their comfort zone to learn expeditionary skills that help reduce the overall footprint.”
Throughout the exercise, the 60th Medical Group also demonstrated casualty receiving hospital capabilities to include processing deploying personnel, patient movements, and establishing and operating a contingency En-Route Patient Staging System (ERPSS) with room for 10 patients. This rehearsal included direct synchronization with 60th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron members, simulating the reception of casualties from a deployed location.
“When we say ‘Team Travis’, we truly mean it’s a total force effort,” said Maj Jami Gunnels, 349th Air Mobility Wing plans. “It is our duty as the Reserve component to support the installation, providing that critical subject matter expertise and backfilling those essential positions. Exercise Golden Phoenix was no exception. Our Reserve teams integrated directly into the mission set, providing a large spectrum of support and operational functions.”
The exercise culminated with a maximum aircraft generation event demonstrating the installation’s ability to ready and launch 21 aircraft in rapid succession, supporting 42 real-world and exercise missions showcasing Team Travis’ resolute posture as the Gateway to the Pacific.
“We’ve never launched this many jets at a time. I can’t think of a better way to end the exercise,” said Capt. Keegan Reynolds, C-17 instructor pilot and lead mission planner. "Every aircraft that was prepared to take off was green and it did.”
This provided further opportunity for Airmen to hone readiness capabilities in a response to potential real-world contingencies. During the integrated effort, mobility aircraft not only support exercise operations but also broke off to support multiple MAF mission requirements.
“It’s an incredible team effort. It really starts with all the support agencies that back our team up to all our maintainers,” said Lt Col Tom Reynolds, 60th MXG deputy commander. “They’ve been working 24 hours around the clock to produce the airlift needed for this exercise. They’ve done an incredible job and we’re incredibly proud.”
Overall, the exercise validated the 60th AMW’s capability as an integrated joint mobility force, using the full range of the Department of Defense's capabilities in synchronization.