HURLBURT FIELD, FL – A simulated plane crash, an unknown biological agent and a chemical attack helped train Air Force Special Operations Command Airmen preparing for the Air Force-wide chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear exercise challenge.
AFSOC developed the June 14 to 15 training workshop to improve the skills of the three biological environmental engineers and two civil engineer emergency managers that will represent the command at the Air Force level.
“The main thing we are doing this for is to enhance mission capabilities,” said Maj. Phillip Goff, AFSOC command bioenvironmental engineer. “Every time you have a workshop, it is going to get people on their toes.”
In total, nearly 20 Airman from the 1st Special Operations Wing participated in the scenarios. The exercise took months to prepare in an effort to make it as reasonable and realistic as possible, the major said. The “all-hazards approach” allowed the team to find the problem, decide whether it was a chemical, radiological, biological or nuclear issue, and figure out how to handle it.
The first obstacle presented to the team was determining how people became sick from an unknown factor. After interviewing the “patients” and narrowing down commonalities, the group began testing water sources.
“They had a really good sampling technique,” Major Goff said.
As the scenario continued, the group moved into the “bread and butter” of CBRNE, said Senior Airman Robert Stevenson, 1st Special Operation Civil Engineer Squadron Emergency Management journeyman.
In the chemical warfare portion, the team placed chemical tape outside the simulated base compound to determine exactly what they were facing.
The nuclear response consisted of coordinating off a simulated plane crash site until the team determined what was on the aircraft and if the population was at risk.
After two intense days, the team completed a hot wash to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and see what they need to fine-tune before the Air Force challenge, Major Goff said.
“All-in-all, I am very glad we did this,” he said. “Not only will the team do great at the challenge, but they are more ready for a real-world incident, and that’s the goal.”
Both Airman Stevenson and Tech. Sgt. Chloe Hayes, 1st SOW non-commissioned officer in charge of occupational health, will represent AFSOC at the next level of competition.
“The exercise gave us the opportunity to practice, practice, practice for the Air Force Challenge,” Sergeant Haynes said. “I think we have a really good team and could take the prize for AFSOC.”