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Ex COARSE GRIT: Elevating 317th AW Readiness for Future Conflict

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. David Owsianka
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

The 317th Airlift Wing continued its emphasis on Full Spectrum Readiness during Exercise COARSE GRIT, April 5-8, 2021.  Integrating with Total Force partners from the 433rd Airlift Wing, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, and the 911th Airlift Wing, Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, the 317th AW rehearsed its wartime mission while simulating expected future threat environments.

As the second exercise in the 317th’s GRIT Exercise Series, COARSE GRIT evaluated a number of diverse objectives in context with Great Power Competition and an ability to survive and operate.  Included focus items were the Wing’s proficiency in minimum-timeframe force presentation, as well as aircrew ability to respond to and operate against likely threats in dynamic upcoming scenarios.  The 317th AW also exercised their ability to command and control geographically separated forces, furthering their proficiency in Agile Combat Employment.

“Conducting an exercise like this is particularly valuable for our Airmen to gain more exposure and experience in complicated operational settings,” said Maj. Matthew Gabso, 317th AW exercise director. “This assessment also provided an opportunity to expand their competence toward a great power competition type of conflict in a contested or degraded environment.”

During COARSE GRIT, aircrew members were tested on their ability to plan combat missions in order to deny, degrade and defeat radar-based integrated air-defense systems, operate under chemical contamination, conduct personnel and equipment airdrops, and execute casualty evacuation missions.  Likewise, 317th Maintenance Group personnel ensured that the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft were ready for combat within a minimum timeframe and continued to employ and sustain combat operations throughout the exercise.

“We are never sure what tomorrow will bring,” said Tech. Sgt. Brandon Lee, 40th Airlift Squadron evaluator loadmaster. “Exercises like this show us what we excel at and what we can improve on to ensure that we are ready to respond to any real-world situations.”

Personnel from the 317th AW, 433rd AES and 911th AES also conducted an aeromedical evacuation mission from a location simulated as chemically contaminated.  During this AE training scenario, casualties were transported from Ft. Bliss to Kelly Field, Texas.  This allowed Airmen to train with personnel they may work with during real-world contingencies, increasing readiness to respond to any situation, anytime, anywhere.

“This was a dynamic opportunity for us to work alongside aircrew members during an aeromedical evacuation scenario,” said Capt. Rockie Carter, 433rd AES readiness officer in-charge. “We now have better insight on how we can better work together in the future.”

When the crews and maintainers know their limitations, they’ll be better prepared to get the C-130J mission done in combat.

“When we strive for realism in a full-scale exercise like this, it exposes vulnerabilities that may otherwise go undetected,” Gabso said.  “Integrating real-life medical personnel to the exercise paid the same dividends as the rest of the scenario-based complexities.”