Iowa Airmen train to operate after attack

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

Members of the Iowa Air National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing held an “ATSO” or Ability to Survive and Operate exercise over their August training weekend.

The ATSO exercise tests unit members ability to continue to operate following a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attack. 

VIDEO | 04:13 | Iowa Airmen train to operate after an attack

During the exercise, Airmen are required to react, then continue their mission while wearing chemical protection gear.

Senior Master Sgt. Brad Rose works as a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear or CBRN specialist with the 185th ARW in Sioux City, he said the exercise is required every 24 months.

“The goal of the exercise is to test our ability to survive in a chemically contested environment and continue working,” said Rose.

During the exercise participants are required to react to a non-conventional attack that requires them to wear chemical protection gear, including a protective mask.

According to Rose the exercise tests both basic Airmen skills as well as leadership operations. Airmen are tested on proper wear of protective gear, reacting to an attack, and then continuing to work.

Leadership skills exercised include running an emergency operations center and maintaining command and control.

As part of the exercise, unit members are required to react to an attack and get back to “normal” operations as soon as possible while in a chemically contaminated environment.

Following a simulated attack unit members put on a thick chemical protection suit along with a protective mask and gloves. The event then has Airmen practicing post attack and recovery methods.

As part of the recovery, Airmen then move through a contamination control area where they practice decontamination procedures.

Rose said the aim of the event is to exercise both basic Airmen skills as well leadership techniques that when combined allow the base to continue their mission after an attack.

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