AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy --
The 724th Air Mobility Squadron participated in exercise Nodal Lightning the week of October 19, 2020. Nodal Lightning is a readiness exercise conducted by the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing.
The week-long exercise included providing medical assistance to teammates with simulated injuries and setting up temporary operations on the flightline due to a simulated fire in their warehouse.
“Nodal Lightning is a consolidated exercise across different air mobility units in U.S. Air Forces in Europe in support of any type of war-time scenario where an operations plan might need to be taken off the shelf and executed,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Joseph Pendland, 724th AMS flight chief.
USAFE air mobility units take part in exercises like this about twice a year. Though COVID-19 made it a little more difficult for the squadron to partake in the exercise, they were able to overcome these extra challenges.
“Along the way through COVID, we’ve been training as much as possible,” Pendland said. “This is our opportunity to take everything we learned and execute the game plan.”
The in-depth exercise featured air attacks with complications thrown in throughout. One complication was a fire in the warehouse after an air attack which mandated an evacuation of the entire building.
Airman 1st Class Kysen Garcia, 724th AMS aircraft services specialist said the exercise was important because they need to be prepared to support the mission during war, even though he hopes that day never comes.
Another complication involved in the scenario was an unexpected injury to a team member during the evacuation. This required the team to carry the downed teammate out of the building and perform first aid on the injured area.
After the simulated evacuation was over, the air quality of the warehouse was deemed too harmful for the squadron to operate, requiring the team to set up a temporary operations center in order to continue the mission.
“I think we are doing really well in this exercise,” said Pendland. “The sense of urgency is there and folks are passionate about putting forth the A-effort.”
Only a few hours after the simulated disaster, the team was completely set up in a temporary location to continue operations.
“Obviously we have to continue to sharpen those skills,” Pendland said. “We can’t ever rest on the laurels. We’ve got to keep moving in a direction that’s going to show our near-peers that we mean business and that we are ready to go.”