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Wing Exercise-Ready: 230 Airmen go to Operational Readiness Exercise

Technical Sgt. Leslie Cook, center, 166th Logistics Readiness Squadron, instructs fellow unit Airmen on cargo pallet build-up for the C-130 transport aircraft in the small air terminal at the New Castle Air National Guard Base, Del. on June 3, 2012. The training is preparation for the 166th Airlift Wing's Air Force Operational Readiness Inspection which starts on August 3. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Weslyn White-Kelly)

Technical Sgt. Leslie Cook, center, 166th Logistics Readiness Squadron, instructs fellow unit Airmen on cargo pallet build-up for the C-130 transport aircraft in the small air terminal at the New Castle Air National Guard Base, Del. on June 3, 2012. The training is preparation for the 166th Airlift Wing's Air Force Operational Readiness Inspection which starts on August 3. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Weslyn White-Kelly)

NEW CASTLE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Delaware -- The wing's pending challenge is our Operational Readiness Exercise, and it begins here at the New Castle Air National Guard Base on August 3.
 
That's when our advance echelon team, or ADVON, departs for Alpena, Mich., home of the ANG Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, where they will perform initial site setup tasks prior to the main body of personnel who follow on August 4.

The Airmen will travel aboard C-130 and C-17 military aircraft to Michigan, and are expected to return home in two groups on August 8 and 9.

The purpose of the ORE is to promote excellence in training in an atmosphere that purposely contains enough unpredictability to stress the mind and body, while testing teamwork and pushing members' ability to survive and operate while performing our mission in a combat environment.

Major Robert Howard, installation deployment officer, 166th Logistics Readiness Squadron, said about 230 Airmen from the wing will be joined at the ORE by about the same number of Airmen from our ANG sister unit, the 117th Air Refueling Wing in Birmingham, Ala.

In addition, about 40 Exercise Evaluation Team members from various units will deploy to give guidance and evaluate the combined deployed wing.

The 166th AW is the lead unit for this ORE, with dozens of full-time members and many more part-time members spending considerable time sharpening their skills and checking details.

Speaking of the wing preparations, Maj. Howard said, "We are as good as we can be at this point. Everybody is trained, ready to go, and now we just need to execute."

His advice to younger troops? "Listen and learn from those with experience, and get into your AFIs [Air Force Instructions]," said Maj. Howard. "We are in the crawl phase of crawl -- walk -- run. It is time to learn and fix mistakes."

EET members will provide classroom training for a couple days at the Alpena CRTC, then evaluate our capabilities for chemical and wartime readiness.

The wing safety office reminds us that the mission comes first and safety is always paramount.

Senior Master Sgt. Bob Ward, wing safety NCOIC, said, "Each Airman, whether on the ground or in the air, needs to speak up if you see something unsafe, or that looks or feels incorrect. It is always the right time to complete a task safely, exercise or no exercise."

The wing will have another ORE, currently scheduled to occur September 2013, at the Gulfport CRTC in Miss.

The OREs are preparation for the Operational Readiness Inspection scheduled for June 2014 with over 300 wing Airmen participating.

The wing's last ORI was March-April 2009 and held at the Alpena CRTC.