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Support Group exercise goes 'bare'

Dozens of 162nd Mission Support Group Airmen form up for an in-brief from Golden Falcon exercise organizers before putting their training to use at Camp Navajo in Belmont, Ariz., July 17. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lt. Col. Garry Beauregard)

Dozens of 162nd Mission Support Group Airmen form up for an in-brief from Golden Falcon exercise organizers before putting their training to use at Camp Navajo in Belmont, Ariz., July 17. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lt. Col. Garry Beauregard)

Senior Airman Chris Esparza from LRS apprehends Staff Sgt. Jacob Lee as part of a quick reaction force. Sergeant Lee played the role of opposition forces for the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lt. Col. Garry Beauregard)

Senior Airman Chris Esparza from LRS apprehends Staff Sgt. Jacob Lee as part of a quick reaction force. Sergeant Lee played the role of opposition forces for the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lt. Col. Garry Beauregard)

A mission support Airman decontaminates his hands after exiting a simulated contamination area. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lt. Col. Garry Beauregard)

A mission support Airman decontaminates his hands after exiting a simulated contamination area. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lt. Col. Garry Beauregard)

Lt. Col. Greg Bliss and Chief Master Sgt. Armando Gonzales review the Airman’s Manual for force protection condition procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lt. Col. Garry Beauregard)

Lt. Col. Greg Bliss and Chief Master Sgt. Armando Gonzales review the Airman’s Manual for force protection condition procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lt. Col. Garry Beauregard)

BELMONT, Ariz. -- Creating a deployed mission support element for a bare, or new, base was the task given to 71 members of the 162nd Mission Support Group during their Golden Falcon deployment exercise July 14-18 at Camp Navaho here.

"This is the first time Mission Support Group has forward deployed during an exercise," said 2nd Lt. Jason Gonzales, installation deployment officer and Golden Falcon project officer.

"You have to go out there and exercise knowing you don't have the reach-back capability for things you forgot," said Gonzales. "We were out on our own, and whatever we brought we had to make it work."

Using more than 10 vehicles including busses, trucks and sedans, Airmen from an array of professional support backgrounds convoyed to the camp.

Training included land navigation; chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive training; self-aid and buddy care; cardiopulmonary resuscitation and squadron-specific training, said Gonzales.

"Everyone has to complete their training within six months prior to their tempo band [the scheduled time when they are most likely to deploy] so that they are ready in a moment's notice," said Gonzales. This deployed training will probably be conducted bi-annually to fulfill that requirement, he said.

"Making this the best possible training opportunity for everybody was quite difficult because everyone has different requirements," he said. "I was really surprised at how many people came up to me afterward and said it was a good opportunity for them to meet people outside of their squadron."

The exercise provided new challenges, such as planning and executing the movement of Airmen and equipment, and some familiar challenges like land navigation.

"There was a bear and a cub up there [on the land navigation course]. For the second half of the day they had to close off half of the course where the bear was seen," said Staff Sgt. Charmaine Pozo, human resources assistant.

Some of the challenges posed a deadly threat to the exercise participants.

"One of our squadron members found an actual unexploded ordinance - it was a grenade. And you had to be careful of snakes; I saw two snakes out there," said Pozo.

Despite the challenges and threats, the experience turned out good for those involved.

"Security Forces did a good job teaching everybody; it was a challenge to traverse the whole area covered with hills, rocks and safety hazards. Even the shortest points were three miles apart," said Gonzales. "It was the most motivational experience for everybody."