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NEWS | May 30, 2023

188th Wing Hosts Emergency Management Course

By Master Sgt. Chauncey Reed, 188th Wing

EBBING AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ark. - The 188th Wing hosted the Air National Guard’s Specialized Personnel and Equipment for Austere Reconnaissance and Surveillance (SPEARS) course at the Fort Chaffee Maneuver Training Center outside Fort Smith May 23.

“The 188th emergency managers developed this course to transform the carrier field from primarily working in an office environment to conducting operations in a degraded combat environment,” said Chief Master Sgt. Josh Rich, 188th Wing emergency manager chief and SPEARS course manager. 

SPEARS is a one-week course developed in response to the ever-changing nature of modern warfare. It equips Airmen with the skills and knowledge to navigate the evolving landscape of future operations while operating effectively in small, mobile teams. 

“We are evolving, not stuck in what we were doing in Southwest Asia or previous conflicts. We are adapting to the ever-changing environment,” said Chief Master Sgt. David Frates, 103rd Airlift Wing, Connecticut Air National Guard, and the National Guard Bureau’s A4X FEMA Region 1 emergency manager chief.

These small teams form part of a demand force package, available when a combatant commander identifies a need for this type of emergency management CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear).

The team can load onto an aircraft and reach the target quickly. Once on-site, the team informs the combatant commander of all hazards.

“This is the kind of training I’ve wished I had throughout my entire career,” said Senior Airman Tyler McPherson, a SPEARS student from the 103rd Airlift Wing. “The most crucial aspect of this training is pushing people outside of their comfort zones.”

McPherson said it’s easy to focus too much on familiar regulations and hazards. Emergency management leaders evaluate threats, look ahead to future fights and ensure Airmen are prepared.

Graduates have lauded the course for its practical application and relevance to real-world scenarios, enabling them to become more resilient, adaptable and proactive emergency managers.

During the course, students encounter scenarios requiring navigation to a specific location to identify potential hazards. They also participate in a 72-hour field training exercise. 

“Embrace the challenges; the course isn’t easy. Students will face struggles, but we must encourage them to persevere, embrace the difficulties and push through,” said Tech. Sgt. Daniel Johnston, a SPEARS instructor from the 163rd Attack Wing at March Air Base, California. “Our goal is to develop highly trained Airmen who can accomplish missions regardless of their placement.”



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