A group of thirty airman from the United States Air Force are making history, first by being the first group ever to complete the Air Force Rear Mission Support Element course at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, then by joining Army soldiers in Fort Hood for the Army’s Warfighter Exercise 17-4.

Warfighter Exercise (WFX) 17-4 was planned specifically to help prepare soldiers and airmen tasked with serving in Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) headquarters, and in particular, to prepare them for the daunting task of building the JTF from the ground up.

It’s very important for us to conduct warfighting functions with joint partners, specifically with the Air Force, who we’re going to be working with during our OIR mission,” said Army Sergeant 1st Class Christopher Bradshaw, a WFX 17-4 participant from III Corps.

Combining the two branches of service for training prior to deployment will hopefully allow for a more seamless transition into conducting combat operations once deployed.

Participation in the Warfighter Exercise ensures the joint team works together to learn the headquarters functions, processes and authorities,” said Air Force Colonel Rhude Cherry III, the 9th AF vice commander. “It also allows members to meet and get acquainted prior to deployment. The relationships made and job knowledge gained at WFX 17-4 better enables our Airmen to nest into their deployed positions faster, reducing deployment angst.”

Airmen are required to meet over one hundred individual training requirements in order to qualify for deployment to CJTF-OIR headquarters, which is currently located in Kuwait and falls under CENTCOM.  The task force is specifically tailored to engage ISIS in the Middle East.

A large portion of the Air Force requirements for such a deployment can now be fulfilled through completing the Air Force Rear Mission Support Element (RMSE) course, with the remainder fulfilled through WFX training.

As an Air Force member, we’re typically used to working within our component, but working in a joint environment, it’s crucial for us to get this type of training,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Martinez-Hernandez, a 737th Training Squadron personnel clerk from Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

The joint exercise took place over a span of eight days, from April 3rd through 11th, and was considered a success by leadership within both branches.

(The exercise) demonstrated that as a team we can get out there, pick out a spot on the battlefield, take over and establish a level of dominance, and still maintain the information capabilities we have in garrison,” Air Force Senior Master Sgt. John Mayo said. “Looking at the equipment and people (who) put it together, it was impressive to see and be a part of.”

Not all of the Airmen tasked with participating in WFX 17-4 had already completed the requisite RMSE training, but according to officials, that issue will be ironed out prior to future joint training operations.  The fledgling RMSE course has only seen one graduating group thus far, but promises to continue to train Airmen for deployment to Joint Task Force headquarters elements in the future.


Image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force