MONTROSE, Colo. -- The 41st Airlift Squadron, alongside members from the 19th Operations Support Squadron, 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and the 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron, traveled to Montrose Regional Airport, Colorado to conduct a two-week pre-deployment training cycle, July 18 to August 1.
Throughout the training, the 41st AS was able to perform airdrops, offload cargo, fly low-levels, land on dirt runways, integrate with other wings, operate in low-light environments and navigate topography that the squadron is unable to replicate at home station.
Utilizing training grounds in the Rocky Mountain region helped familiarize the crews with mountainous terrain and high pressure altitudes similar to what they will encounter in their respective area of responsibility.
“The training that we're getting in Colorado primarily deals with the higher elevation and flying around the mountains, which provides us with the unique opportunity to deal with rapidly changing weather conditions,” said Capt. Matthew Calland, 41st AS chief of tactics. “This challenges our crews to simulate what it will be like on deployment, with different cargo loadouts, instead of just using training loads that we do in Arkansas.”
Over 280 members from LRAFB attended the training in preparation for their upcoming deployment later this year — further validating their ability to operate in any contested environment.
While in Colorado, the 41st AS integrated with the Colorado Air National Guard’s 140th Wing by loading rolling cargo to help prepare for an upcoming Agile Combat Employment exercise.
“ACE is very important as it’s what we are focusing on for future conflicts,” Calland said. “It was great to be able to let them experiment with the aircraft, use different loadouts and be able to actually get hands-on experience and then allow them to offload quickly and get the fighters back after the enemy.”
The 821st Contingency Response Squadron at Guernsey Airport, Wyoming, also contributed to the 41st AS training by provided outsized cargo to load on a C-130J Super Hercules.
“Integrating with the 140th Wing and the 821st CRS gives us a different perspective of what we will see downrage,” Senior Airman Kirk Mumau, 41st Airlift Squadron loadmaster. “This is not what we work with on a daily basis at Little Rock, so it provides us a chance to familiarize ourselves with different cargo that we could encounter.”
Calland said the total force effort ensures all involved are better equipped to handle challenges in a deployed environment.
The ability to host this type of squadron focused training is yet another demonstrated success of the 4/12 deployment initiative.
Developed in 2019 between airlift squadrons from Dyess AFB, Texas and Little Rock AFB, the 4/12 initiative allows each squadron a full year to train together prior to a four-month rotation to their respective area of responsibility.
“The 4/12 initiative allows us more time to focus on the mission sets we are going to see while deployed,” Calland said. “It also allows us time throughout the year to focus on other mission sets such as going after near-peer adversaries, ACE and full spectrum readiness.”
Ultimately, this ensures all four airlift squadrons are able to focus on their critical role in providing agile combat airlift for the nation’s defense.
“Through this training, the 41st AS became even better prepared to execute downrange,” Calland said, “and we were able to safely execute through the added layer of operating in a coronavirus-contaminated environment.”