JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. — The 437th Airlift Wing and 628th Air Base Wing teamed up during mobility exercise Bold Eagle, testing their ability to rapidly deploy and operate in a contested environment. The two phase exercise began Feb. 20, with Airmen receiving notification to simulate deployment Feb. 26.
Ronald Burgess, Joint Base Charleston’s installation deployment officer, is responsible for the deployment of service members and cargo to fulfill tasks all over the world. Burgess described how the personnel deployment function is important in ensuring Airmen can deploy quickly without losing efficiency.
“One of the reasons we like to have exercises like these is to test for issues and to see what shortfalls we may have,” said Burgess. “We give [service members] the training they need so that when we send people downrange, they have everything they need.”
Phase I of the exercise tested the joint base’s ability to rapidly deploy more than 320 people and 80 short-tons of equipment. One of the major components of the first phase included processing Airmen through a personnel deployment function line.
“The PDF line is designed to streamline the process as much as possible,” said Master Sgt. Phillip Reblin, 628th LRS logistics plan superintendent and exercise evaluator. “Airmen will see all the individual providers whether it be medical, legal or the chaplain. The intent is to bring all the support agencies together and provide a one-stop shop so Airmen deploying can go through the line and do a lot of their pre-deployment checklist. Once they finish the line, everything is done. They have their orders and equipment and are ready to deploy.”
Airman 1st Class Andrew Brewer, 628th LRS individual protection equipment journeyman, supported exercise participants by issuing IPE in the PDF line and said the process was a good experience.
“I think our unit did pretty well getting ready for it,” said Brewer. “I’ve never done it before. It helps me in the sense that I know what to expect when something like this actually comes up or in case we have another exercise.”
Aside from prepping for deployment, other Airmen ensured the safe transport of essential cargo. Certain types of equipment are necessary for Airmen to operate effectively downrange.
“We have the cargo deployment function,” said Burgess. “Airmen process the cargo from all the units, checking to make sure they’re air worthy to put onto the chalks and load onto the aircraft.”
Staff Sgt. Harry Carnell, 437th Aerial Port Squadron and exercise evaluator, said the exercise provides Airmen a unique opportunity to practice performing their jobs under circumstances they might not usually see.
“I’ve been deployed seven times,” said Carnell. “This is one way to show [Airmen] how a large-scale deployment could be done if something really serious happened. They’re going to be challenged with extended hours and they’re going to get an experience that can help them in the future.”
Airmen completed Phase I of the exercise, identifying challenges in the joint base’s deployment process, and helped bolster its efficiency for real-world operations. From prepping Airmen to moving cargo, Phase I completed half of Bold Eagle’s curriculum, leading into the exercise. Phase II of the exercise is focused on testing the ability of participants to survive and operate in a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear environment, as well as other scenarios.
"This exercise is a crucial step in ensuring our service members are equipped with the knowledge and experience to deploy quickly if needed," said U.S. Navy Capt. Robert Hudson, Joint Base Charleston deputy commander. "The events this week tested our deployment processes at all levels, from those preparing to head overseas to the personnel and functions supporting our men and women here locally. Exercising and testing these capabilities ensures we are in a constant state of vigilance and readiness."