By Staff Sgt. Ryan J. Sonnier, 159th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
BELLE CHASSE, La. – The 159th Fighter Wing, with Maj. Chris Raschke as the readiness exercise project officer, conducted a pre-deployment exercise to measure the wing’s readiness levels and proficiencies, March 10-12.
“The exercise’s overall purpose is to test our ability to generate the force – aircraft, people and cargo,” said Lt. Col. Jesse Hasenkampf, 159th FW inspector general. “We’re testing our ability to respond to a short-notice tasking, validate the readiness reporting of the units in the wing and ensure that our readiness is where it needs to be and is where we say it is.”
Part of the exercise included a personnel deployment function (PDF) line to ensure readiness. Approximately 300 Airmen were processed through briefings and service offerings from the chaplain, family readiness, personnel, finance, legal and medical.
“When you are deploying a large number of [people] at one time, efficiency matters. The PDF line allows us to maintain control, efficiency and effectiveness of the personnel processing,” Hasenkampf said. “It is designed to take the Airmen deploying and run them through a series of checks, briefings and validations.”
For Tech. Sgt. Cory Darbonne, the 159th FW paralegal, ensuring members get the legal services they need to protect themselves and their families during deployment is imperative to mission success.
“Our main priority is legal readiness,” said Darbonne. “[We help] put individuals’ minds at ease knowing their families are taken care of.”
A unit is typically notified of an upcoming deployment through a warning order that serves as a notification of preparation. However, once the deployment order is released, processes begin to evolve rapidly.
“It is important because the combatant commanders count on units to be able to deploy within their required timeframes,” Hasenkampf said. “All units in the United States military report their readiness, and combatant commander’s count on the reporting data being accurate.”
“It enhances our capabilities because we are practicing and validating what we would need to do should the country need us,” Hasenkampf said. “A lot of the same requirements we have that make us ready to deploy federally, make us ready to deploy for a state all-hazards mission in general.”
For Hasenkampf, exercises are meant to recognize and improve the unit’s shortfalls while developing experience with the Airmen. Large-scale readiness exercises are required, at a minimum, two times per Unit Effectiveness Inspection cycle.
“This is not an exercise to ‘win the exercise;’ we are not trying to get an A+,” he said. “I think we are doing well – we are identifying lessons learned and some places to improve. We have not done a generation exercise, like we are now, in quite a while. A lot of our key personnel are new and learning.”
Pre-deployment training also prepares Airmen for the Louisiana National Guard’s state mission during an all-hazards response. Hurricane season is approaching; through regular readiness training, 159th FW Airmen are ready to respond to the state’s and nation’s calls.