RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
Sixty-six Guardsmen from the Oklahoma Air National Guard emerged through the towering trees to their temporary tent city home outside Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to participate in a Silver Flag training exercise August 2-12, 2017.
The training brought together 14 different career fields from across the Air Force and provided an opportunity for civil engineers to accomplish required recurring training for contingency operations. The event culminated in a two-day field exercise, which allowed participants to showcase their interoperability and teamwork.
“Nobody works in a vacuum,” said Lt. Col. James Ives, the 138th Civil Engineer Support Squadron commander. “It is important to understand the roles required to carry out the mission, and this helps us develop relationships outside of CE and teaches us how to function in a deployed environment.”
Airmen from the 137th Special Operations Civil Engineering Squadron recently returned from a deployment to Southwest Asia where they were integrated with military members from other branches and functions across the Department of Defense as well as international partner nations.
“While we were overseas, we had an incident where Emergency Management came out,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Wooden, a fire protection specialist from the 137 SOCES. “We had to coordinate with them, which led to a coordination with the host-nation fire department as well as the Australian and British fire departments.”
Silver Flag exercises are designed to emphasize coordination and interoperability skills necessary to carry out the mission abroad and focus specifically on integrating different units and career fields into one cohesive team. This Silver Flag afforded 137th Airmen the opportunity to collaborate with their colleagues from the 138th in Tulsa, both inside and outside the classroom.
“It is interesting when you get two units from the same area, and we just immediately mesh together really well,” said Wooden. “We have some units here from Maine and South Carolina as well, but the relationship between Oklahoma City and Tulsa just kind of assumed itself.”
Oklahoma Guardsmen from the 137 SOW and the 138 FW made up almost half of the 150 Airmen receiving training at the exercise and were two out of 11 wings to participate in the event. Oklahoma Airmen experienced first-hand the importance of total force integration in a training environment that translates into real world deployment.
“When we are out here, it is hard for me to differentiate between the active duty members and guard,” Ives said. “We are out here getting the same level of training and the same level of proficiency.”