Airmen test readiness with Weasel Victory 17-08

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Airmen assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing participated in Phase I operational readiness exercise Weasel Victory 17-08, Aug. 2 to 4.

The exercise highlighted the importance of the wing’s ability to support combatant commanders around the world during contingency operations through the act of mobilizing Airmen for a mock deployment.

Airmen medically and administratively processed “deployers,” secured gear on pallets and provided predeployment briefings.

“It was designed to test our capability to deploy for a short-notice tasking,” said 1st Lt. Joseph Grant, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron installation deployment officer. “Whatever level the tasking comes from, they’ll say ‘you have X amount of hours or X amount of days to deploy.’”

This type of short-notice deployment, referred to as a contingency deployment, is different from most deployments 20th FW Airmen face.

“Usually we don’t deploy in 24 (hours), 48 (hours) or two-week time frames,” said Grant. “A normal deployment, we take months and months to plan – to prepare for it. We know where we’re going months in advance, we know what to take and we can kind of influence that to some extent before we go.”

The exercise tested the readiness of deployers, giving them an understanding of what would happen if they were tasked to deploy quickly.

Airman 1st Class Joel Johnson, 20th Force Support Squadron relocations technician, was one of the Airmen responsible for verifying if participants were administratively qualified for deployment.

Some individuals were not up-to-date on their training, which could hinder ability to deploy in a real-world situation, said Johnson. Airmen need to be responsible for their readiness and stay current on training, ensuring they are prepared for short-notice deployments.

Overall, the exercise tested the skills of 20th FW Airmen and allowed them to gain experience in a training environment that they can apply to future exercises or contingency situations.

“I definitely didn’t expect it to be like this but it makes me excited to attack the next one, whether it’s real world or whether it’s another exercise,” said Grant. “It’s an exciting opportunity to really see as the installation deployment officer what a true contingency deployment is all about. ... We weren’t aware it’s really like this, with how much is involved and the level of leadership that’s involved throughout the wing to execute. It was an amazing opportunity.”