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388th, 419th Fighter Wings aim to boost readiness, align training

  • Published
  • By Micah Garbarino
  • 388th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- This month, the active duty 388th and reserve 419th Fighter Wings joined forces to complete the largest integrated off-station F-35A Lightning II exercise in their history, while they work toward synched deployment planning and training.

“This is the first time we’re exercising, as a total force, how we would deploy if we went to war,” said Col. Mike Gette, 388th Fighter Wing commander. “[It] takes a large contingent of reservists and it’s a great opportunity for both wings to make sure our command-and-control works, and our processes are lined up, so we can work as a team before we have to do this for real.”

The joint effort comes at a time when the Air Force is changing the way it trains and prepares Airmen for deployment with the Air Force Force-Generation model and the Mission Ready Airman initiatives.

These programs put Airmen in different stages of training and readiness requirements. Both have required a large shift in thinking for all Air Force units. For the 388th and 419th active duty and reserve Airmen rely on each other to deploy. Although they are from two different commands, getting trained on the same timeline is vital.

The wings are currently working together to align both the 419th and 388th deployment plans within the AFFORGEN cycle.

“We have to practice like we are going to fight,” said Col. Ron Sloma, 419th Fighter Wing commander. “This is not a change when it comes to game day, it’s more about aligning our practice schedules and providing consistency.”

In the future, reservists would be [aligned] in the same phase of training as their active-duty counterparts and know when they could be deployed, Sloma said.

Since the wings became "total force integrated" in 2007, the reserve 466th Fighter Squadron and Aircraft Maintenance Unit have joined forces with their active-duty counterparts in the 4th FS, 34th FS, and 421st FS in support of numerous combat operations.

“Reservists are integrated into everything we do at home station. We work side-by-side every day,” said Gette. “This exercise is our biggest step so far in getting more integrated and aligned so we are ready to go when we get the call.”