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435th CRG brings air mobility to Saber Junction

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Joshua Magbanua
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Airmen assigned to the 435th Contingency Response Group conducted multiple training events on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to support Exercise Saber Junction, Sept. 25-27, 2018.

Saber Junction is a U.S. Army-led combat exercise which takes place in Hohenfels, Germany. However, the 435th CRG also conducts auxiliary training on Ramstein to support the exercise.

While the group is scheduled to send Airmen to Hohenfels to integrate with the Army and Air National Guard units there, some 435th CRG Airmen stayed at Ramstein to practice rapid contingency response scenarios.

The Airmen practiced establishing temporary operating locations which could sustain large groups of troops. In a real-world operation, these “tent cities” would include everything deployed units need to survive in an austere environment: dining facilities, barracks, latrines, and even fitness centers.

“We are putting our guys through a series of tent-building exercises so they can become proficient in this task,” said Maj. CJ Thomsen, 435th Contingency Response Squadron director of operations. “In the event we had to go out the door in a real operation, we want to be the experts in setting up these tents, to be able to train others how to build them as well, and together be capable to establishing a massive tent city.”

Thomsen described the 435th CRG as a very active deployable unit, saying that the Airmen therein must maintain their operational readiness at all times.

“We have two clear objectives: deter our enemies and defend our allies,” he said. “Everything we do in this exercise—and everyday—hangs on those to objectives. Whenever Major Command leadership needs rapid contingency response anywhere in theater, they usually come to us. So our Airmen hone their skills to be better, faster, and safer at everything they do.”

Exercise Saber Junction measures the operational capabilities of the 435th CRG Airmen and their ability to interoperate with partners in other military branches and allied nations. The exercise also tests the ability of the Airmen within the group to work together.

The 435th CRG is a diverse group of Airmen from a multitude of career fields, said Capt. Michael Hester, 435th CRS mobile aerial flight commander. While watching the Airmen work, he praised them for their versatility and willingness to know specific jobs they may not have signed up for.

“This is the most cross-functional unit I’ve ever served in,” said Hester. “Across the 435th CRG, we have more than 50 Air Force specialty codes. Everybody has to know each other’s jobs, everybody has to be flexible and knowledgeable—and you see that when you witness an exercise like this.”

“We have civil engineers, maintenance personnel, and many others doing each other’s jobs,” he continued. “The capability, expertise, and cross-functionality of all the Airmen is impressive.”