ALPENA, Mich. – Some 300 members of the 167th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard deployed to the Combat Readiness Training Center in Alpena Nov. 3-7 for a full-scale readiness exercise.
Thirty-five members of the 167th AW Wing Inspection Team (WIT) assessed the wing’s performance throughout the exercise. As the WIT assessed the unit members, a small contingent of Air Mobility Command inspectors observed the 167th WIT.
“The AMC inspectors aren’t looking at the unit members specifically but are looking at the WIT and the [167 AW inspector general] team to make sure we’re correctly verifying and validating what’s happening,” said Maj. Ben Mathias, the 167th AW director of inspections.
As part of the commander’s inspection program, the exercise, code-named Thunderstruck, employed a “train the way we fight” concept.
Exercise participants, representing functions across the wing, were challenged to operate in a contested environment, testing their policies, plans and training.
“The whole mission of the wing was executed as aircraft were launched,” Mathias said.
During the exercise, 130 injects, which drive the actions taken by the participants, were delivered and completed.
The 167th conducted similar readiness exercises in June 2018 and May 2019, making improvements each time, Mathias said.
“We need to be mission-ready, to deploy on short notice,” Mathias said. “This helps build confidence in the unit member, so when that call comes, they will be prepared to do our missions, our skill sets, anywhere in the world.”
Twelve Airmen from five other units observed the exercise, fostering an environment of shared best practices and lessons learned.
“It really does bring value to the total force, the Guard and Reserve throughout the states,” Mathias said.
Lt. Col. James Freid-Studlo, 167th AW inspector general, presented the seven 167th Logistics Readiness Squadron WIT members with an IG coin and praised them for balancing their responsibility to inspect with providing training to their Airmen.
Col. David Cochran, 167AW commander, said he was pleased with the hard work that went into the exercise and the growth the wing has demonstrated.
“We’re going to make mistakes, there’s always room for improvement,” he said. “We’re going to keep striving to get a little better each time.”