Warrior Days: hands-on training enhances Airmen proficiency

1st Lt. Chrystal Smith
Kaiserslautern American

The March Operational Readiness Inspection will probe the 86th Airlift and 435th Air Base wings to gauge their ability to survive and operate in a deployed location.  

At the urging of wing leaders, 435th and 86th Inspections and Readiness Office added Warrior Days to maximize the training Airmen receive regarding readiness and ORI preparation.  

While monthly exercises are scheduled, Warrior Days have been added to get the most out of training as Ramstein leaders set their sights on an overall rating of “Outstanding” in the spring inspection.  

“Airmen need to get to where moving around in (mission-oriented protective posture) gear is second nature,” said Col. Glen Apgar, 86th Airlift Wing vice commander.  “We need to be able to do our normal job in conditions other than normal, and we have to be able to do them well.”

Because of time it takes to plan and execute an operational readiness exercise, Warrior Days are ideal because they allow officials to teach a massive audience basic tasks in minimal time.

“Warrior Days are the crossroads between academic instruction and full blown exercises,” said Capt. Dale Nelson, 435th CVI inspections and readiness deputy chief. “Essentially, the WD’s are a chance to go back and teach fundamental tasks like ability to survive and operate skills or challenge and response procedures in a controlled environment so they can apply those lessons learned in the next operational readiness exercise.”

Overall, Warrior Days are designated to provide Airmen focused, hands-on training of skills viewed as deficient during the two previous operational readiness exercises.

“Because people are more visual learners, this training is probably 10 times better than academic training,” said Senior Master Sgt. Steven Smith, 435th Civil Engineer Squadron readiness superintendent. “A person can attend the annual training, sit through 100 or 200 slides and never have the full understanding on how difficult it is completing a simple task while in full mission oriented protective posture gear.” 
Airmen who participated shared thoughts about the benefits of the training.

While it provided some with initial training and familiarization, it was viewed as a refresher for the more veteran Airmen.

“The training was the most valuable training offered to me,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Raffa, 435th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuel distribution superintendent.  

Other Airman expressed the need to design a similar setup of training designated for those members who deploy to the areas dedicated to supporting operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

All in all, any training done prior to deploying to volatile or combat zones is lifesaving training.

“There is an old saying, ‘the more you sweat in training … the less you bleed in war’,” said Sergeant Smith. “The more training we do in preparation of surviving in a deployed environment, the safer people will be in the combat zone. Intensive hands-on training is the best way to meet real world requirements.”

The first sessions were held in Hangar 1 in mid-December for nearly 300 Ramstein Airmen.  The six-station setup provided training in areas of security challenging procedures, post attack reconnaissance, nuclear biological recognition and gas mask operation, unexploded ordnance recognition, self-aid and buddy care and chemical contamination area functions.