Airmen deploy for field training

Capt. Phillip Ulmer
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***HOHENFELS, Germany – Honing their already keen deployment skills, the 86th Contingency Response Group deployed more than 100 people Monday to the Hohenfels training area in southern Germany to participate in Exercise Irish Spring 05 in conjunction with a U.S. Army exercise.

“This is the first time we have deployed the entire CRG as a group since we opened the northern front in Iraq,” said Capt. Steve Stayberg, 86th Air Mobility Squadron mobility control team commander. “We’ve already completed the airfield and security assessments and now we’re setting up the essential command and control, aerial port services, and protection forces to ensure the supplies get to the Army.”

The exercise scenario reads right out of the news. The CRG has deployed to a region in Iraq wrought with terrorists and insurgents. The U.S. Army Task Force, 1-6 Infantry, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division is in Fallujah preparing for offensive operations when their main supply road is cut off by insurgents. The CRG is called in to open a bare base to allow emergency supplies to be brought in by air. While securing and operating the air field the group came under attack.

“This is a great training opportunity for the group,” said Col. Scott Schafer, 86th CRG commander. “We’ve got some new people and new equipment and we’re integrating it all together to improve our capabilities. Everyone is pulling together and performing superbly at this point and I expect it to continue throughout the duration of the exercise.”

Trudging and slipping through the snow and bitter cold, teams quickly started unloading equipment and setting up the tents. Within hours security forces have established check points and patrols, 21 tents are set up, communications are established and the airfield is being prepared to receive cargo and aircraft. Two pallets are dropped from C-130s the first night.

C-130 Herks and crews from Ramstein’s 37th Airlift Squadron also participated in the exercise. Crews provided necessary supplies via several airdrop and airland missions here, adding to the realism of the exercise.

“The extreme weather has had little impact on our operations,” said Captain Stayberg. “Everyone is keeping warm and taking care of each other and our new equipment is designed for the cold. We’re fine tuning the tent heaters, but everything else seems to be working out well.”

The hours are long, the work is difficult, and the conditions are miserable at best. However, the expeditionary combat Airmen from the CRG seem to see through all of it. They’re focusing on the mission, the esprit de corps and the future.

“This has been an awesome exercise for me,” said Staff Sgt. Dustin Freeman, a ground radio technician with the 86th Air Mobility Squadron. “This is my first deployment with the group and it’s great to see everyone jump in to help whereever they’re needed. I’m learning a lot about bare base set up that will help me whenever I’m deployed.”