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Devil Raiders conduct multi-day joint/coalition Exercise Jersey Devil

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Anastasia Tompkins

The 621st Contingency Response Wing hosted Exercise Jersey Devil at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Jan. 11-14.

The multi-day exercise brought together six wings and numerous joint and total force units to showcase the strategic advantage that incorporated joint partnerships as well as international alliances. The participating service members worked to assess, open and operate three airfields, executing 22 missions, moving 171 passengers and over 650,000 pounds of cargo within 72 hours.

“The main objectives of Exercise Jersey Devil were to seize on the diversity of the organizations at JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and accomplish a joint, coalition exercise with the flexibility to achieve the desired learning objectives of any unit that chooses to participate,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Daniel Mollis, 621st Contingency Response Group commander. “Participating units were able to practice new tactics, techniques and procedures for air base opening operations and foster joint, total force and coalition relationships to develop interoperability before the fight instead of during it.”

The 621st CRW conducts multiple exercises every year to reinforce Airman readiness and discipline as well as the ability to open and control airbases on lands foreign and domestic.

CR forces saved in travel and transportation costs by building a homegrown exercise to execute the entire tasking, deployment and employment process for rapid air base opening.

“The natural flow of events during large-scale exercises offers the chance for our Airmen to show how they can and should adapt to changes in the strategic environment,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Brandon Gaines-Richcreek, Exercise Jersey Devil’s Contingency Response Element commander. “With specifically designed injects and the sudden change of events that can occur, these exercises give Airmen the experience needed to overcome challenges and embody General Brown’s ‘accelerate change or lose’ priority.”

The CR mission requires an inherent bias for action and drive to innovate. Jersey Devil is one exercise in a series of training events that seek to achieve proof of capability following a year-long restructure of how we employ and present forces to a combatant commander. 

Every exercise provides the opportunity to hone tactical skills and maintain the readiness needed to  rapidly deploy within the allotted 12-hour window to anywhere across the globe, regardless of austere conditions or terrain.

“We have to practice what we would do in reality, so the way we get after that is to give people the opportunity to learn how to adapt and overcome in realistic environments, such as the USINDOPACOM region,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Joshua Johnson,  Exercise Jersey Devil's CRE director of operations. “By giving them the decision space to make mistakes and learn lessons without somebody over their shoulder, the functional leads are forced to make difficult choices without being handed the right answer.”

Working hand-in-hand with industry partners, allies and the Joint Force -- together the 621stCRW can deliver deterrence and lethality.

“Partaking in the exercise gives us a unique opportunity to see how the United States Air Force operates,” said Royal Canadian Air Force Maj. Émilie Viau, 2nd Operational Support Squadron force protection flight officer commanding. “Working with our biggest coalition partner helps optimize effectiveness with our functioning differences throughout our similar mandate.”

Innovation is the driving force behind the CR mission. Exercise Jersey Devil was just one example of how the wing employs and presents forces to the combatant commander, following a year-long restructure.

“We were able to rapidly open, operate and maneuver between three separate operating locations within a 72-hour period, more rapidly than we have ever practiced before,” Mollis. “This marks a significant evolution in CRG capability that will aide us in developing the grit and callus needed to win the next fight.”