MFEs vital to 18th Wing's readiness
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Few Airmen who have endured a mission focused exercise enjoy every aspect of the training.
The Wing Inspection Team uses a range of scenarios throughout exercises that are often inconvenient, challenging, exhausting and stressful.
However, they're also what keeps the 18th Wing ready to respond to any threat in the region and prepared for the worst.
"You always want to practice to the worst-case scenarios," Lt. Col. Peter Gryzen, 18th Maintenance Group deputy commander. "You want to make sure you're ready for not just the most common or most likely scenario, but what's the worst-case scenario you could see. You want to sharpen those skills for all the what-ifs that could come up. These exercises put us through that. The WIT puts us through what they see as a combination of the most likely scenarios and then some of the most dangerous scenarios we'll see."
Col. David Mineau, 18th Operations Group commander, said even though exercises test Airmen for the least desirable situations, the professionals stationed at Kadena perform the mission daily.
"A lot of people on the base are performing their wartime tasks each and every day," he said. "For instance, in the operations group and the maintenance group, we're generating aircraft to go fly missions. When they're in the air on a training mission, they are simulating combat, but what is missing from that is the chaos and confusion of attacks or reports of attacks or hardening the facilities and taking cover while you're trying to generate sorties."
In fact, Gryzen said MFEs give Kadena participants the chance to demonstrate those abilities.
"These exercises are a great opportunity for us to showcase our skills," Gryzen said. "We work hard every day to conduct the mission day in and day out."
Though the WIT and Inspector General on-base impose trying situations, Mineau said it's all for the greater good.
"At first you don't like the IG because you're like 'man, they're making me put on this gas mask, and I can't get into that building because it's chemed, or I've got to MOPP up,' and it's kind of painful," Mineau said," but then you start to realize they're doing this to make sure we're prepared. Especially that chemical environment, to get it right, you have to do it several times. Then before long, it becomes second nature. It's in that long-term memory, and when you do that two- or three-year time on Kadena, you kind of have it for life, and those skills will come back when you need it. They're doing us a favor."
Due to its strategic location, Kadena is known as the Keystone of the Pacific for its ability to project power rapidly in the region. This is why Gryzen said it's even more important for the Airmen of the 18th Wing to be ready.
"Geographically, we're in a unique location. As a mission, as a wing, with all the different components that we have and mission sets that we have here, Kadena's uniquely poised to not only conduct deterrence or offensive operations, but also humanitarian relief operations," he said. "Kadena's poised geographically with our mission to be ready to do several things throughout this Pacific theater."