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Innovative Deployment Training to Employ Mission Ready Airmen

  • Published
  • By Corporal Jessica Roeder
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

The 17th Logistics Readiness Squadron is leading the way in combat innovation and deployment readiness.

The Installation Deployment and Readiness Cell developed the Expeditionary Readiness Training course to ensure deployment-eligible Airmen can adapt and support the ever-changing international operational climate.

John Cox, 17th LRS IDRC installation deployment officer, arrived at Goodfellow Air Force Base in March 2021 and was tasked with ensuring that deployment-eligible Airmen had the necessary expeditionary training to maintain mission readiness.

Goodfellow previously conducted a simplified version of the ERT program before COVID-19 called the Warrior Ancillary Specialized Training Program. However, Cox noted the need for WASP to evolve to keep a competitive edge over our near-peer adversaries.

Cox wants Airmen to understand the mission focus, expressing that Airmen are not just their career field, they are capable of doing much more. He and the IDRC team set two main goals: to re-establish a pre-deployment program and get every Airman trained a year before moving into the ready portion of their two-year Air Force Force Generation deployment cycle.

With these two goals in mind, the IDRC team began to work on the Warrior Ancillary Specialized Training Program, basing the changes on the program's previous iterations and their personal deployment experiences. The resulting product was the Expeditionary Readiness Training program. 

Lt. Col Jose Quintanilla, 17th LRS commander, explains, “Goodfellow’s Expeditionary Readiness Exercise meets Combatant Command pre-deployment training in preparation to deploy within the new AFFORGEN model.” The program prepares Airmen for deployments with various computer-based trainings, briefs, hands-on training, range qualification and a culminating simulated field operation scenario, with scenarios ranging from possible diplomatic encounters to combat tactics implementation.

The ERT program has been refined into a week-long course that follows roughly the same schedule for each class. There is some variation in the scheduling layout but the course ensures all of the necessary skills are taught. “Goodfellow’s ERT is a 5-day course designed to provide Ready Airman Training that incorporates Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear defense, Tactical Combat Casualty Care, Law of War, Combat Arms Training and Maintenance and Integrated Defense skills,” Quintanilla explained. 

ERT has become a standout operation as a joint partnership as well. The IDRC coordinates with various units on Goodfellow to meet all the logistical and strategic needs of the ERT course. They work specifically with the Army to access the land used to execute the field operation exercises, and with the Marine Corps and Army to source the service members who operate as an opposing force during the training. Utilizing volunteers from these units, the IDRC can assemble a challenging and engaging operation for the ERT students to contend with.

“We don't teach the scenario. We teach concepts, and how the participants apply those concepts to the scenario will determine how the scenario goes,” Cox explains. This allows the class to adapt and improvise as if in a real-life situation instead of a training exercise. Airmen are not guided through a rigid plan; they are given a baseline objective and told to execute.

As the program has progressed, Quintanilla has been pleased with its development. The movement from the WASP to the current ERT course has been a long process that he has enjoyed watching occur. “ERT is designed to create Mission Ready Airmen with competencies that increase their lethality and survivability and enable our deployers to support Agile Combat Employment operations in a deployed environment,” stated Quintanilla.

The Air Force prioritizes a mission-ready force, and Cox made a statement that rings true not just with ERT and Goodfellow but across the Air Force, “We are no longer the Air Force of the past.” He continued, “Airmen need to understand that they play a bigger role in the mission of the Air Force.” Quintanilla, Cox and the IDRC have made it their goal that every Airman that comes through their doors understands this.