The Importance of Exercises

  • Published
  • By Col. Asheleigh Gellner
  • 182nd Airlift Wing

I remember several years ago during Operation Enduring Freedom, participating in a MOPP 4 exercise while being deployed. At the time, I thought it was pretty silly and redundant. I mean, wasn’t I already in a war zone? Why did I need to exercise “war?” What I couldn’t appreciate at the time was that the Department of Defense needed to ensure we were proficient in current taskings while also ready for a worst-case scenario.

The same is still true today. We must continue to train and exercise. For example, over May’s regularly scheduled drill, we have CERFP personnel doing a Joint Collective Training Exercise and we have Combat Communications Squadron members exercising with the 183rd Wing. Why? To prepare and train for future threats and contingencies. We also have a large group of Airmen going through real-world deployment lines and a huge contingent of personnel getting ready for the largest NATO exercise ever, Air Defender, kicking off in less than a month. Why? To support our allies and partners and showcase that we are ready and proficient for worst-case scenarios.

But just because we are busy, doesn’t mean we’re exempt from other annual requirements. From May 6 through June 3, 2023, the Wing Plans and Inspector General sections are launching Exercise Radiant Quiver to evaluate the wing’s wartime generation capabilities. The commander’s intent is to align this exercise with our real-world taskings for the deployment cycle and Air Defender. The Inspector General and Wing Plans sections will evaluate and inspect the pallet build-up and cargo, personnel, and other wing functions associated with these events and generate a Time Phased Force Deployment Data to exercise other Unit Type Codes. The result will be an exercise that exploits the operations we are already required to do while simultaneously enabling the wing to execute joint, Total Force, and Air Mobility Command commander-directed exercises.

Radiant Quiver will require a bit of extra work because it is supplementary to our already high ops tempo. However, I ask that instead of labeling it as an added burden, think of it as a validation of our readiness. As many of you already know, the scale of threats to the U.S. and to our like-minded allies and partners are real and gravely concerning. Russia continues to attack Ukraine and escalate its territorial aggression in Eastern Europe; North Korea’s missile testing has become a frequent occurrence; and Iran and violent extremist organizations still create geo-political instability.

Meanwhile, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is actively making headway in achieving its 2049 national strategy. Its goal is to solidify its authoritarian governing systems, preserve the centrality of the Chinese Communist Party, and revise the international order in its favor. All these threats pose long-term risks to the U.S. and many other countries, but the PRC is the most serious, long-term challenge to U.S. security.

The DoD has been charged to increase deterrence through our force capabilities, posture, and activities. The Air National Guard and the 182nd Airlift Wing has a big role in this deterrence approach, but we must continue doing the things that make us a great and reliable partner. This includes training and exercises.

It may appear silly or redundant; but I assure you, it is not. It is preparation for a worst-case scenario.

Thanks for all you do!