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NEWS | Dec. 12, 2023

Oregon Guard's 173rd Fighter Wing Trains in Chemical Gear

By Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson, 173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. - Seventy-five Kingsley Airmen completed hands-on, chemical gear training at the 173rd Fighter Wing Dec. 3 as the Air Force ramps up readiness across the entire force.

“A group of us refamiliarized with getting into full MOPP gear today, getting that muscle memory back — pulling on the mask, placing it and securing it quickly as well as the rest of the gear,” said Col. Micah Lambert, the 173rd FW vice wing commander.

He added that this training is essential for every Team Kingsley Airman.

“For many in typically non-tasked positions, this is a reminder that we not only produce fighter pilots at Kingsley, but we are also Airmen ready to answer the state or nation's call,” said Lambert.

In years past, only Airmen deploying overseas would accomplish this training. Today, however, Ready Airman Training (RAT) works to ensure all Air Force members have an increased level of basic preparation.

At the program's genesis just over a year ago, Gen. CQ Brown Jr., then chief of staff of the Air Force, said: “We must challenge the status quo to prepare our Airmen for operating in environments far more complex than we have in the past.”

It’s part of a larger focus on deployability or Air Force Force Generation (AFFORGEN), the framework on which Airmen are deployed to meet changing contingencies around the world.

In addition to learning to don chemical gear quickly, Airmen can anticipate renewed emphasis on 12 areas, including small arms training, active threat response, comprehensive fitness and information environment awareness.

“This is the model and method needed to compete and deter where the adversary’s tactics and techniques have evolved in an effort to match ours,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass. “Ready Airman Training is how we, as an Air Force, continue to outpace our strategic competitors and win the high-end fight.”

And so, Senior Master Sgt. Jason Peterson led the assembled Airmen through the six stages of donning and wearing chemical gear.

“Ready …. Go,” he said punctuated by the sounds of ripping Velcro as Airmen attempted to don their masks in less than 10 seconds — the Air Force standard. “The priority is your lungs, keeping the chemicals out of them.”

They also put the rest of the gear on and, by the end of the training, each Airmen stood, hooded, masked and gloved, covered from head to toe in less than 2 minutes — in aggregate, more prepared and more available should the Air Force need their services in far-flung places.



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