Airmen, Soldiers conduct joint training

by Tech. Sgt. Markus M. Maier
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Five Army firefighters from the Army Garrison Grafenwöhr, Germany, joined some of their Air Force counterparts for joint training Jan. 18 on Ramstein.

The Soldiers, assigned to the 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion’s 23rd Ordnance Company, are working side-by-side with Airmen from the 886th Civil Engineer Squadron for three weeks to gain a better understanding on how Air Force firefighters operate.

“We are here to do some joint training with the Ramstein Air Base firefighters to foster some camaraderie between the Air Force and Army,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Wagaman, lead firefighter in Grafenwöhr.

This camaraderie is important, especially in today’s joint environment, he said.
“Once we are downrange, we work together,” Sergeant Wagaman said. “On the last deployment my unit was on, we worked at Balad Air Base, Iraq, together.”

The Ramstein hosts set up a variety of training events to give their Army brethren an opportunity to get their hands on some scenarios Air Force firefighters typically deal with.

“Some of the joint training we are doing is vehicle extraction, which is removing victims from inside vehicles after a crash, and mock C-130 burns,” Sergeant Wagaman said. “Whether we are downrange or at home station, we both see C-130s on our flightlines. So this gives us a chance to work together to see how each one of us would handle these scenarios under pressure.”

In addition to the training events, the Soldiers have also been riding along in response to real-world calls.

After their first week of training together, the Soldiers and Airmen found they have much more in common than not.

“There really isn’t a huge difference, because we are all firefighters, we all went to the same technical school, we pretty much do everything the same,” Sergeant Wagaman said.

There are differences in some of the equipment, he added, but for the most part both services get the same funding and the same tools.

“The biggest difference I’ve noticed is the vehicle they operate is different than the ones we have assigned here,” said Senior Airman Reivan Buenaobra, Ramstein firefighter. “Our vehicles are dedicated to either structural or aircraft fires, while (the Army’s) is a combination of both.”

The Airman added that he and his wingmen enjoyed the opportunity to train with the Soldiers and he now feels better prepared to work with the Army when the opportunity arises.

“The training so far has been a success,” Sergeant Wagaman said.
He also added that both units are looking into setting up recurring rotations between Ramstein and Grafenwöhr to train together about every two months.