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Swamp Dash enhances interoperability with mission partners

A pilot prepares for take off in a C-130J

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Jason Katsar, 61st Airlift Squadron pilot, prepares to fly a C-130J Super Hercules during the 2021 Swamp Dash exercise at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, April 15, 2021. The 19th Airlift Wing executed the large formation launch and training event with mission partners, which included 13 C-130J Super Hercules from Little Rock Air Force Base and two C-130Js from Dyess AFB, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mariam K. Springs)

A C-130J sits on the flightline

A C-130J Super Hercules sits on the flightline at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, prior to participating in the 2021 Swamp Dash exercise, April 15, 2021. The 19th Airlift Wing executed the large formation launch and training event with mission partners, which included 13 C-130J Super Hercules from LRAFB and two C-130Js from Dyess AFB, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aaron Irvin)

Pilots perform pre-flight checks

Pilots from the 61st Airlift Squadron prepare for the 2021 Swamp Dash exercise at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, April 15, 2021. The 19th Airlift Wing executed the large formation launch and training event with mission partners, which included 13 C-130J Super Hercules from LRAFB and two C-130Js from Dyess AFB, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aaron Irvin)

A crew chief marshals out a C-130J

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Alex Barber, 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, marshals out a C-130J Super Hercules at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, April 15, 2021. A total of 13 C-130Js from the 19th Airlift Wing participated in the 2021 Swamp Dash exercise, which took place over Louisiana and validated large formation threat reactions and provided pre-deployment training to the U.S. Army’s 46th Engineer Battalion and 519th Military Police Battalion. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy S. McGuffin)

C-130Js line up for takeoff

Twelve C-130J Super Hercules line up for the 2021 Swamp Dash exercise at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, April 15, 2021. The 19th Airlift Wing executed the large formation launch and training event with mission partners, which included 13 C-130J Super Hercules from Little Rock AFB and two C-130Js from Dyess AFB, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy McGuffin)

A group of C-130Js prepare for takeoff

A group of C-130J Super Hercules taxi on the flightline before taking off for the 2021 Swamp Dash exercise at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, April 15, 2021. A total of 13 C-130Js from the 19th Airlift Wing participated in the Swamp Dash exercise, which took place over Louisiana and validated large formation threat reactions and provided pre-deployment training to the U.S. Army’s 46th Engineer Battalion and 519th Military Police Battalion. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aaron Irvin)

C-130Js takeoff

Twelve C-130J Super Hercules take off from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, to participate in the 2021 Swamp Dash exercise, April 15, 2021. The 19th Airlift Wing executed the large formation launch and training event with mission partners, which included 13 C-130J Super Hercules from Little Rock AFB and two C-130Js from Dyess AFB, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Ashley Walker)

Loadmasters look on as C-130Js arrive

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Phim Riggs (right) and Airman 1st Class Matthew Burkham (left), 61st Airlift Squadron loadmasters, look on as C-130J Super Hercules arrive at Chennault International Airport, Louisiana, during the 2021 Swamp Dash exercise, April 15, 2021. The 19th Airlift Wing executed the large formation launch and training event with mission partners, which included 13 C-130J Super Hercules from Little Rock Air Force Base and two C-130Js from Dyess AFB, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mariam K. Springs)

C-130Js are parked on the flightline

C-130J Super Hercules from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, and Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, sit on a flightline at Chennault International Airport, Louisiana, during the 2021 Swamp Dash exercise, April 15, 2021. The 19th Airlift Wing executed the large formation launch and training event with mission partners, which included 13 C-130J Super Hercules from Little Rock Air Force Base and two C-130Js from Dyess AFB, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aaron Irvin)

A loadmaster directs a humvee onto a C-130J
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U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Matthew Burkham, 61st Airlift Squadron loadmaster, helps direct a Humvee onto a C-130J Super Hercules during the 2021 Swamp Dash exercise at Chennault International Airport, Louisiana, April 15, 2021. The Swamp Dash training objectives included joining up with Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, C-130Js at Chennault and providing pre-deployment training to the U.S. Army’s 46th Engineer Battalion and 519th Military Police Battalion. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mariam K. Springs)

A C-130J takes off
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A C-130J Super Hercules assigned to Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, takes off from Fort Polk, Louisiana, during the 2021 Swamp Dash exercise, April 15, 2021. The 19th Airlift Wing executed the large formation launch and training event with mission partners, which included 13 C-130J Super Hercules from Little Rock Air Force Base and two C-130Js from Dyess AFB, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aaron Irvin)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- Airmen from the 19th Airlift Wing executed a large formation launch and training event, designated “Swamp Dash”, with 913 Airlift Group mission partners April 15, which included 13 C-130J Super Hercules from Little Rock Air Force Base and two C-130Js from the 317th Airlift Wing at Dyess AFB, Texas.

The training objectives included joining up with Dyess at Chennault International Airport, Louisiana and providing pre-deployment training to the U.S. Army’s 46th Engineer Battalion and 519th Military Police Battalion.

“We were able to leverage our joint relationships and source real cargo from the Army,” said Capt. Kyle Hormann, 34th Combat Training Squadron air mobility liaison officer. “We also assisted the Army units with load plans training and instructed them on how to complete the appropriate paperwork to get their cargo moved safely.”

After joining with Dyess at Chennault, the C-130Js uploaded Army personnel and rolling stock, providing loadmasters experience with oversized cargo, before departing in two-ship formations to Fort Polk, Louisiana.

“Integrating with the Army allowed us to maximize the realness of training for all parties involved by pairing an actual user with an actual aircraft,” said Capt. Alexander Humphrey, 19th Operations Support Squadron and Swamp Dash mission commander. “Working with our sister unit at Dyess AFB demonstrated our capabilities across the C-130 community while allowing us to share our best practices, advancing the Herk enterprise.”

The exercise also provided Mobility Airmen the opportunity to execute real-world formation threat reactions – with all crews completing one full-threat engagement.

Humphrey said that Swamp Dash was a success because of the integration with multiple mission partners.

“In the C-130J community we measure our success by how well we can meet the user’s requirements,” Humphrey said. “Working with our Air Force and joint partners reminds us of this, and makes everyone’s training more realistic and effective.”

Showcasing Multi-Capable Airmen

A pivotal moment in this training exercise came when the 19th Maintenance Group validated their MCA training, launching four C-130J aircraft with a 100% MCA crew.

An MCA crew is comprised of Airmen performing tasks outside of their primary Air Force Specialty Code duties.

“In addition to our MCA launching four aircraft, they also handled three separate launch discrepancies,” said Col. David Hood, 19th Maintenance Group commander. “We are really proud of how our team tackled the additional training and put it to good use.”

The ability to use a 100% MCA crew validates an evolving concept that prepares the Wing to further the concept during the 19th AW’s upcoming ROCKI 21-02 exercise.

ROCKI 21-02 will encompass a Phase 1-3 full spectrum readiness exercise to validate experimentation work on the C-130 lead wing concept and further enhance agile combat employment integration. Unique to ROCKI 21-02, the exercise will include a contingency of MCA trained to deploy and operate in a highly contested environment.

“Our MCA training is not only paying off for our upcoming exercises; the training will also continue to pay dividends at home station as well,” Hood added.

Incentive Flyers

Another unique aspect to this training event was the 19th AW planners creating an opportunity for Airmen around the wing, who aren’t in flying units, to complete an incentive flight and be listed as mission essential personnel (MEP).

Col. Andrew Roddan, 19th Operations Group commander, said the Airmen were nominated to fly in the Swamp Dash as top performers from across the wing.

“The idea behind this was to allow an exchange of information and experience between these Airmen,” said Roddan. “The Airmen from other career fields could tell the aircrews about their job and the critical role they play at Little Rock AFB, and the aircrews could show them what they do to advance our tactical warfighting capabilities.”

Senior Airman Ian Muniu, 19th Medical Support Squadron biomedical equipment technician, was one of the incentive flyers and said he gained a new perspective after spending the day with the aircrew on a C-130J, and was even met with a pleasant surprise.

“Since I am medical maintenance, our shops are usually ground level; out of sight out of mind,” said Muniu. “I was surprised the aircrew members knew about my career field. It was refreshing to hear that and see how we all are all part of one family – Team Little Rock – from the medical group to the flightline.”

The incentive flyers also had the opportunity to get hands on training, which included being walked through pre-flight and post-flight inspections, how to load an armored Humvee and safely secure the vehicle with proper weight distribution.

Roddan added that the ability to enhance interoperability with our mission partners is why the Airmen at LRAFB continue to lead the way in accelerating change.

“Every single Airmen brings something unique and different to the fight,” said Roddan. “We paired each aircrew member with an incentive flyer with the expectation that everyone would learn something new, allowing them to take their newly gained perspectives back to their respective work centers, strengthening the TLR mission and culture.”