Gunfighters Maintain Readiness in Gunslinger 21-05

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Andrea Prewett
  • 366th Fighter Wing

The U.S Air Force has many ways of maintaining Airmen's readiness. This usually involves varying training exercises to put Airmen's skills to the test through numerous scenarios. The 366th Fighter Wing Inspector General (IG) spent five months planning the most recent Phase II exercise, Gunslinger 21-05. 

“The purpose of Phase II is to focus on our ability to survive and operate in a contested environment, specifically involving chemical warfare,” said Maj. Matthew Ross, 366th Fighter Wing, director of exercises and inspections. “We want to see how Airmen operate despite having damage to the base, aircraft and personnel, how they overcome those obstacles while continuing to operate our entire mission set and wearing our most restrictive chemical warfare gear.”

During the exercise Airmen across the base responded to simulated chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear explosive incidents. They rehearsed self-aid and buddy-care along with applying other essential combat skills.

“This Phase II we ramped it up quite a bit, the attacks are more aggressive, the chemical agents are more persistent and there are a lot more injects,” Ross said.

The IG and wing inspections team put in a lot of time and effort into planning GS 21-05 to create an integrated exercise scenario that allows each unit the ability to train for their specific duties in situations they wouldn’t normally encounter. 

“Phase II stresses a muscle we don't stress very often,” said Ross. “It gives a realistic scenario for how we expect adversaries to act in contested environments.

Gunfighters practiced defending the base in land, air and cyberspace through several different scenarios. 

“When I took command this summer I believed I was joining a winning team,” said Col. Ernesto DiVittorio, 366 Fighter Wing commander. “The Gunfighter excellence I witnessed throughout this exercise confirms that belief. Despite the many simulated attacks, I was able to visit some of our squadrons and see Gunfighters in action: inspecting the flight line, securing the perimeter, generating aircraft and ensuring decision makers had timely information in order to command and control this combat fighter wing and take the fight to our enemy.”

Security forces guarded the perimeter from simulated ground attacks, suicide attackers, and even people trying to dig under the fence. During these attacks, command and control units advanced their alternate and contingency plans about how the base would continue to synchronize despite intermittent disruptions to communication systems across the base.

“This exercise tested our brand new airman out on the line, trying to turn a wrench in Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) 4, all the way up to the wing commander and his ability to make a decision rather quickly to generate aircraft,” Ross added.

Gunfighters put in a lot of hard work, time, and dedication during the execution of the exercise, but readiness is an ongoing process, and we aren't finished yet.

“I want to thank every Airman for your attention to detail, dedication to our mission, and efforts to increase our lethality,” emphasized DiVittorio. “I look forward to continuing to train for great power competition with Air Combat Command observing our next exercise at the end of the month. I cannot wait for our higher headquarters to witness first-hand what makes Gunfighters so successful!”