185th mobilization exercise continues despite covid and hurricane

  • Published
  • By Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot
  • 185th Air Refueling Wing

The Iowa Air National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing from Sioux City, Iowa decided to continue with their mobility exercise this week after making a last minute decision to move the event away from the Gulf Coast because of Hurricane Sally.

According to 185th Air Refueling Wing Exercise Deployment Commander, Lt. Col. Scott Slaughter, unit members were originally slated to go to Gulfport, Miss. but due to the weather in region, the exercise location was suddenly moved to Topeka, Kan.

“Part of the Guard is that we are first responders, instead of just shutting down through this we have wanted to stay operational, and we have done that,” said Slaughter. “We have continued to execute our mission globally through the pandemic and part of that is getting the mission done while being safe.”

The main purpose of mobility exercise this week according to Slaughter, is to test the Refueling Wing’s ability to mobilize, and quickly set up and operate in a deployed location.

Slaughter said that weather concerns as well as threats posed by Covid-19 presented some unique challenges to the operation. He said all these factors are weighed as they go through their operational risk management assessment.

“There is a lot of planning that goes into it way ahead of time,” said Slaughter.

Slaughter said the exercise includes the deployment of the unit’s aircraft and aircraft maintenance, but he added that it involves nearly every agency that is part of the refueling wing.

“The mission requires every function to support what we normally need, day to day at an Air Wing while at a deployed location,” Slaughter said.

The Air Refueling Wing is equipped with the U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker that can normally be seen at the western Iowa based Air Wing. Slaughter added that the exercise required support from several other outside agencies to make it all happen.

Aircraft arrived in Sioux City from Illinois, New Hampshire and New York. A U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules from the 182nd Airlift Wing of the Illinois Air National Guard from Peoria, Ill was part of the aircraft movement. A U.S. Air Force KC-46 Pegasus from the New Hampshire Air National Guard’s 157th Air Refueling Wing was in Sioux City to help move Airmen and cargo.

Also a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster from the 105th Air Wing located at the Stewart Air National Guard base in Newburgh, N.Y. was also part of the 185th exercise.

Airmen from the Iowa Air Guard will be in Topeka until the end of the week, when they will once again pack everything up and move back to Sioux City at the conclusion of the exercise.

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