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McConnell Airmen support Mobility Guardian, learn new skillsets

View of a cockpit

Capt. Aaron Cho (left) and Capt. Jared MacNaught, both pilots from the 349th Air Refueling Squadron, McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., fly a KC-135 Stratotanker into a visual approach during Exercise Mobility Guardian, while flying over Yakima, Wash., Aug. 3, 2017. More than 3,000 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and international partners converged on the state of Washington in support of Mobility Guardian. The exercise is intended to test the abilities of the Mobility Air Forces to execute rapid global mobility missions in dynamic, contested environments. Mobility Guardian is Air Mobility Command's premier exercise, providing an opportunity for the Mobility Air Forces to train with joint and international partners in airlift, air refueling, aeromedical evacuation and mobility support. The exercise is designed to sharpen Airmen’s skills in support of combatant commander requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Clayton Cupit)

A KC-135 refuels a F-15

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 349th Air Refueling Squadron, McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., during Exercise Mobility Guardian while flying over Yakima, Wash., Aug. 3, 2017. More than 3,000 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and international partners converged on the state of Washington in support of Mobility Guardian. The exercise is intended to test the abilities of the Mobility Air Forces to execute rapid global mobility missions in dynamic, contested environments. Mobility Guardian is Air Mobility Command's premier exercise, providing an opportunity for the Mobility Air Forces to train with joint and international partners in airlift, air refueling, aeromedical evacuation and mobility support. The exercise is designed to sharpen Airmen’s skills in support of combatant commander requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Clayton Cupit)

A maintainer inspecting an aircraft

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman John Potter, crew chief, 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, McConnell, K.S., inspects a KC-135 Stratotanker during Exercise Mobility Guardian, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 5, 2017. More than 3,000 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and international partners converged on the state of Washington in support of Mobility Guardian. The exercise is intended to test the abilities of the Mobility Air Forces to execute rapid global mobility missions in dynamic contested environments. Mobility Guardian is Air Mobility Command's premier exercise, providing an opportunity for the Mobility Air Forces to train with joint and international partners in airlift, air refueling, aeromedical evacuation and mobility support. The exercise is designed to sharpen Airmen's skills in support of combatant commander requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Gracie I. Lee)

Airmen in front of an aircraft

Aircrew members from the 349th Air Refueling Squadron, McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., talk with maintainers from the 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., about aircraft details during Exercise Mobility Guardian, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 3, 2017. More than 3,000 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and international partners converged on the state of Washington in support of Mobility Guardian. The exercise is intended to test the abilities of the Mobility Air Forces to execute rapid global mobility missions in dynamic, contested environments. Mobility Guardian is Air Mobility Command's premier exercise, providing an opportunity for the Mobility Air Forces to train with joint and international partners in airlift, air refueling, aeromedical evacuation and mobility support. The exercise is designed to sharpen Airmen’s skills in support of combatant commander requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Clayton Cupit)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan.— Nearly 70 McConnell Airmen traveled to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in support of Exercise Mobility Guardian, Air Mobility Command’s premiere exercise, July 31-Aug. 12.

The group was mainly comprised of aircrew members and maintenance personnel, but included logistics and communications Airmen as well.

More than 3,000 U.S. service members and international partners participated in the exercise. Out of the 54 aircraft there, three were assigned to McConnell.

McConnell aircrews, made up of 28 active duty and reserve Airmen, completed 18 sorties during the exercise. In addition to their usual air refueling duties, they received training on several mission sets, which included cargo movement, aeromedical evacuation, threat-avoidance maneuvers, visual-flight-rules flying, tactical arrivals and departures and forward operating base procedures, said Lt. Col. Ted Langstroth, 349th Air Refueling Squadron operations officer and Mobility Guardian tanker detachment commander.

“It exposed a lot of crew members to missions that we’re responsible for but haven’t had the opportunity to see, even in a simulated environment,” said Langstroth. “There are a lot of mission sets that we’re responsible for, and we can adapt quickly and learn how to execute those, but we need to be able to practice them.”

Many Airmen were able to receive hands-on training for the first time on some capabilities, including Capt. Millie Hale, 350th Air Refueling Squadron instructor pilot, who piloted her first AE exercise.

“Often when you go to training, you’re doing things you’ve already done a lot before,” she said. “I really thought that Mobility Guardian did a great job of providing us training in things we weren’t familiar with.

“I’m an instructor pilot already, and I had never gotten the chance to do AE,” Hale continued. “Of course I’ve studied it, and I would have been capable of doing it if I needed to, but having seen it now, it’s a great benefit to me to be able to do it and teach it to people. It was really good training.”

In addition to learning and practicing different mission sets, Airmen were able to interact and fly with international partners to increase interoperability.

“Some of our folks flew with the KC-30, the Australian tanker, and we got to see how they do things,” Langstroth said. “Their aircraft is set up probably pretty similar to how the KC-46 is going to be, so seeing how their crew interacted and how they executed their mission was valuable.”

Mobility Guardian provided valuable training opportunities to McConnell Airmen, ensuring that they are ready and capable of supporting the global mobility mission.