151st ARW participates in Global Thunder
By Maj. Krista DeAngelis, 151st ARW/PA
/ Published June 28, 2009
SALT LAKE CITY -- The clock strikes zero-six-thirty as members of the 151st Air Refueling Wing report for their monthly Unit Training Assembly June 27.
It's unusually early for a drill weekend, but the base is buzzing with activity as Airmen prepare for the U.S. Strategic Command exercise known as Global Thunder.
Global Thunder is the command's major nuclear exercise that includes command post activities as well as force generation and flying operations. The 151st ARW's nuclear support mission includes the air refueling of flying assets. This weekend, Airmen from the wing will run through the process of generating aircraft and aircrews to support that mission.
"With the Air Force's emphasis on nuclear enterprise, it's important for us to be up to speed on our nuclear support mission," said Col. Kelvin Findlay, 151st ARW commander.
Security forces and aircrew alike are poised to respond to the exercise launch message at any time. The wing has even set up a Crisis Action Team with commanders who can coordinate the exercise details.
"The exercise and generation process kicked off early this week," explained Colonel Findlay. "The Guard has simulated some of the processes, but this weekend our aircrews and maintainers will be going through briefings, pre-flight checklists, getting aircraft ready, starting engines and getting ready to taxi."
Capt. Mike Flocco from the 151st ARW Command Post has been integrally involved in the exercise on the operational side. His job is to monitor the aircrews, make sure they are in the right places and be accountable for everyone.
"We give briefings on the scenario and the exercise runs its course," he explained. "We respond and adapt as necessary with our aircrews and airplanes."
"A lot of agencies on base were gearing up and preparing for the exercise," continued Captain Flocco. "Some of the agencies involved include life support, supply, intel, wing plans, security forces, maintenance and command post."
Due to the recent issues within the nuclear community, the active-duty Air Force has recently implemented "no-notice" inspections at nuclear bases. In response to the possibility the Guard may also implement short-notice inspections, the 151st ARW initiated this month's Tanker Strategic Aircraft Regeneration Team exercise.
"It's important we learn lessons from the exercise, and we've already seen some mistakes," Col. Findlay, 151st ARW commander said. "Communication is always a problem...but we always learn new things every time."
By late afternoon, the exercise has run its course with the generated aircraft and aircrews responding as required. Aircrew and support personnel alike are tired, but happy with yet another successful exercise.
"Everyone worked effectively to accomplish the mission, and the agencies worked very well together," said Captain Flocco. "Nowadays, our nuclear mission is more critical than ever with the current global situation and escalation of world tensions."