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NEWS | June 17, 2021

104th Fighter Wing hones skills during readiness exercise

By Master Sgt. Lindsey Watson, 104th Fighter Wing/Public Affairs

WESTFIELD, Mass. – The 104th Fighter Wing conducted 24-hour operations during a readiness exercise June 10-13 at Barnes Air National Guard Base.

The REX lets Airmen set aside their daily tasks and hone the skills that will enable them to excel in a contested and degraded environment. Airmen worked 12-hour shifts to conduct 24-hour operations, test their systems and processes, and respond to scenario injects by the 104FW inspector general office.

“This exercise was unique in that the wing IG really focused on a wide variety of threat behavior,” said Col. William ‘Sling’ Bladen, 104FW commander. “We simulated insider threats, mortars, snipers, aircraft battle damage, active shooters, aerial recon, power outages, and reduction of our command and control means, and yes, chemical weapons.”

Bladen called the event a phenomenal training opportunity to prepare Guard members to respond to federal or state missions at a moment's notice.

“I’m particularly proud of our Airmen who had the courage to make decisions in the moment without direction,” he said. “They were the ones who won the day.”

Airmen from across the base spent time performing their jobs while wearing body armor, the different levels of mission-oriented protective posture gear, and other job-specific gear. This included the crew chiefs and maintenance teams launching and catching F-15Cs and the pilots flying them.

“Readiness is and has been the No. 1 priority in the 131st Fighter Squadron,” said Lt. Col. Michael ‘Shot’ Glass, 131st Fighter Squadron commander. “This exercise, and the training we accomplished, allowed us to validate the tactics and procedures we would use during contingency operations. We are very grateful to have a community that is so supportive of our mission.”

Coordinating such a large-scale exercise requires support from every agency and team on base. The planning effort was led by the IG office and wing inspection team members.

“We gathered all stakeholders and executed a wing-wide training event,” said Richard Tudisco, 104IG superintendent. “The overall feedback from wing inspection team members was that the coordinated wing execution was better than expected and the wing is on the right path.”

Bladen thanked family members for their support.

“I very much appreciate them doing what they always do, keeping 'real life' moving along, supporting our members, and ultimately supporting our nation’s ability to conduct combat operations,” he said.