NEWBURGH, N.Y. - Air Guard members assigned to the 105th Base Defense Squadron flew to Avon Park Range, Florida, on March 3 to test their combat capabilities at a Mission Readiness Exercise with their active-duty counterparts in the 822th Base Defense Squadron.
The Airmen are honing a slew of skills including reconnaissance, countering improvised explosive devices, and interacting with local nationals through key leader engagements.
Senior Master Sgt. Shawn Knowlton, the 105th BDS liaison to the 820th Base Defense Group, said the MRX is the perfect place for new BDS Airmen and those who haven't deployed to learn from more experienced Airmen so they are better prepared for the stresses of working in a combat zone.
"One of the goals of our units is to get this foundational training before they deploy down range," Knowlton said. "We don't really want Airmen going into theater without this kind of training—that makes it harder to adjust."
The 105th BDS trains and equips Airmen for outside-the-wire missions while deployed alongside the 820th Base Defense Group, which includes the 822nd BDS.
Master Sgt. Todd Lobraico, the deployment and mobility superintendent for the 105th BDS, said it is crucial for the Guard members and active duty Airmen to train together so the two units can quickly and effectively integrate when they are called to deploy.
"It's very important that we have a good relationship with the 820th Base Defense Group so when a mission comes up it's not like they're going with perfect strangers," Lobraico said. "They have a rapport with them, they've worked together and the cohesion is set forth prior to them deploying."
This is a unique MRX where the 105th BDS brought their own equipment and were transported on 105th Airlift Wing's own C-17 Globemaster III.
Knowlton said it was a team effort by the 105th Logistics Readiness Squadron, 105th Operations Group and the 105th BDS to coordinate the flight.
The squadron brought two Humvees, two Light Medium Tactical Vehicles, which are essentially military-grade cargo trucks, and their own vehicle mechanic to participate in the training.
The squadron tries to incorporate the other career fields outside of security forces to participate so they too can get valuable training and integrate with their counterparts in the 820th BDG, Knowlton said.
"They get to see the 820th's version of their job and bring that skillset back with them," Knowlton said.
The exercise is scheduled to wrap up next week and a 105th C-17 is scheduled to bring the Air Guard members home.