Airmen in control: 270th ATCS completes Annual Training

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Emily Copeland
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

The 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron completed their annual training at the Biak Training Center in Redmond, Oregon, from June 26-29, 2019.

This year’s annual training was intended to familiarize personnel with vehicle operation and capabilities, shelter construction and teardown, as well as vehicle convoy operations. Additionally, it was intended to empower the members of the Airmen tier (E-1 through E-4) by letting them lead all phases of training, specifically the confidence course and convoy operations.

Mobility exercises allow air traffic controllers to simulate operations in remote locations or hostile environments. The exercise also serves as a leadership course for younger Airmen who have not had experience in field operations such as leading convoys, establishing a forward operating base, off-road driving, and protecting assets.

“The Airmen in our squadron have a natural ability to lead and to get the mission done,” said Master Sgt. Royce Mace, 270th ATCS. “Letting our Airmen get into that uncomfortable zone really allows them to grow and succeed. I have all the confidence in these men and women to adapt and overcome any situation put before them.”

Each step of the training was completely junior-Airmen led, with only oversight provided by the unit’s senior leadership to ensure the process was completed properly and within the training requirements.

“Grooming the Airman tier is important to our squadron so we can maintain a high level of knowledge, competency and continuity for years to come,” said Mace. “This is vital to answering and sustaining state and federal missions now and in the future.”

The mission for the first day of the training was to prepare equipment and convoy to the Biak Training Center, which served as a simulated, remote forward-operating location. The convoy was made up of two Humvees, a M35 2 1/2 ton cargo truck, and a M939 5-ton cargo truck, all of which travelled from home base at Kingsley Field, Oregon to Redmond, Oregon. After successfully arriving at the FOB, the Airmen in charge had the task of establishing shelter and familiarizing themselves with the surrounding environment.

Day two of training brought the Airmen together with a low-rope confidence course which was created by U.S. Army cadre to grow leaders and teams by problem solving to complete each obstacle course.

“I did not know what to expect with the course as it was my first annual training exercise, but I learned a lot about communication and working as a team,” said Airman 1st Class Debbie Cawrse, a 270th ATCS controller. “I feel like this training made me a better leader and more confident in the skills that I possess.”

The unit also completed the Military Operations Urban Terrain course and Light Maneuver Training which was created to allow each Airman to operate and acquaint themselves with the vehicles while being observed by a trainer. After the course completion, each Airman was certified to drive the cargo trucks and Humvees.

The third day of training was the close-quarters combat training with modified paintball guns, which also was used a morale event. The unit used a simulated town made from containers and vehicles as hiding and protection from opposing forces.

The final day of training was completed with the convoy returning back to Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls.

“This training was a great experience,” said Cawrse. “It was challenging and fun training, but I got to see different leadership styles and execute a mission by ourselves. I’m really proud to be an air traffic controller with the best team.”