Always Ready: 944th FW trains for upcoming deployments

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Tyler J. Bolken
  • 944th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 944th Fighter Wing’s November Unit Training Assembly was very different from the standard two-day UTA. Held Nov. 6-9 at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, the ‘super’ UTA encompassed four days of intense pre-deployment preparations.

This longer UTA was initially scheduled in April of this year, but due to COVID [Coronavirus Disease] precautions it was postponed to November. The objective for adding two additional days was to have more time to complete training requirements for upcoming deployments.

“COVID has created quite a few constraints over the past six to seven months as far as our ability to complete in-person training,” said Lt. Col. Ronald Sloma, 944th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander and Reserve deployment officer. “We can leverage the time to maximize our training accomplishments.”

Some of the mandatory training consists of Self-Aid Buddy Care medical training, gas mask fitting and usage, and simulated pre-deployment checklist scenarios.

“We are primarily looking to test the deployment process for upcoming RCP’s [Reserve Component Periods],” said Sloma.

An RCP is a period of months Reserve Citizen Airmen are more likely to be mobilized to support Air Force tasking’s around the world.

The most recent example of this for the 944th FW was when more than one dozen of the wing’s medical personnel were mobilized to aid COVID response efforts in and around New York City in April 2020.

“In a worst case scenario, if we needed to mobilize an entire wing, it would need to happen in a 72-hour period,” explained Sloma. “That is what we are trying to test this weekend.”

Each of the processes and steps required for pre-deployment were evaluated this weekend to identify deficiencies and improve overall effectiveness.

“Communication is a critical piece being looked at this weekend because it can delay the entire process,” said Master Sgt. Jessica Schoewe, 944th LRS logistics plans superintendent.

In addition to training requirements, mobilization requires a member to visit various sections throughout the wing, such as finance, Airmen and Family Readiness, legal, and the chaplain.

“The most difficult component in this short time frame is ensuring available communication from the correct individuals,” said Schoewe.

Beyond testing members to prepare to deploy, the members who assist with this process are also being tested and evaluated.

“We want to ensure personnel have the tools and resources needed in order to identify deficiencies and address them accordingly,” said Schoewe. “This exercise will help us improve our processes so that we can effectively and efficiently get [members] out the door.”

Sloma and Schoewe each emphasized the importance of what is being accomplished over this long weekend.

“We are testing our deployment process,” said Sloma. “The overarching goal this weekend is to try to find the bottlenecks or gap areas, and fix them before people start getting [deployed].