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ROCKI 20-01 readies warriors

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mariam K. Springs
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- The landing gear comes down as the nearly 113-foot C-130J Super Hercules prepares to bring the last of the Airmen home from their simulated deployment where tents, sleeping bags and Meals Ready to Eat were the way of life. These Airmen proved themselves to be Ready Warriors.

The 19th Airlift Wing full spectrum readiness exercise, ROCKI 20-01, came to a successful close Sunday at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas. The exercise provided the opportunity for 19th AW Airmen to prove their ability to project and sustain agile combat airlift in any environment.

“ROCKI 20-01 was a successful comprehensive exercise that tested and validated the 19th AW’s readiness skills in a contested environment,” said Maj. Kelly Franklin, 19th AW director of inspections. “It is important for Airmen to understand the process of moving into and sustaining operations in a deployed location in a quick and efficient manner.”

The exercise was divided into three distinct phases, deliberately designed to test Airmen in different ways while honing their overall warfighting effectiveness.

“Phase I taught our Airmen how to task and expediently process over 500 personnel out the door and onto a plane in the least amount of time possible,” said Senior Master Sgt. Tiffany Sargent, wing inspection team lead for the 19th Mission Support Group. “This process is complicated and involves moving parts from several units for it to work. Perfecting it now ensures we get it right when supporting the fight down-range in the future.”

The exercise grew more intense as Airmen armed up with M4s and M9s using simulated rounds, and began to reinforce structures with sandbags in anticipation of upcoming simulated enemy attacks at the Realistic Training Area known as Camp Warlord— marking the beginning of Phase II.

“Simply learning your deployed job will not physically or mentally prepare you to deal with the stress of working long hours in difficult conditions, under fire and in your gear,” Sargent said. “Phase II accomplished this by pushing Airmen out of their comfort zones, teaching them to accomplish their mission while also dealing with realities of war.”

Ground threats and simulated occurrences of chemical and radiological contamination were a large part of this training.

“With the overwhelming threat of nuclear attacks from adversaries, it’s imperative that we prepare our Airmen to respond,” Sargent said. “Phase IIB focused on nuclear threats and our ability to quickly and decisively respond to them. Going forward, we’re really excited to see how the nuclear portion of the exercise will grow and expand.”

In a new twist for a ROCKI exercise, two C-130Js brought 30 Airmen and the supplies needed to survive in a simulated austere environment at their forward-deployed location – Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The operation tested the ability of combat airlift to provide rapid global mobility through the establishment and resupply of a distributed network of bare bases within a highly contested theater of operations.

“My job is to assist the wing commander and inspector general in planning and executing an effective and realistic exercise that allows Airmen from all Air Force Specialty Codes to practice and perfect their deployed mission before they’re faced with it down range,” said Sargent.

The semiannual exercise validated the 19th AW’s Ability to Survive and Operate within both chemical and radiological environments.

“ROCKI 20-01 demonstrated the 19th AW’s ability to project and sustain agile combat airlift within a highly contested theater of operations, as described by the National Defense Strategy,” said Col. John Schutte, 19th AW commander. “The 19 AW is committed to remaining at the leading edge of operational excellence. We are educating and training our Airmen so they are prepared to compete with adversaries in every domain — It’s why we call them Ready Warriors.”