Annual Field Training Lives!!!

  • Published
  • By Col Donald Bonte
  • 181st MSG Commander

     For a long time after we were BRAC'd back in May of 2005, the concept of performing Annual Field Training (AFT) seemed all but dead and buried. As I write this article here at the Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) in Alpena, Mich., I can assure you that the concept and purpose of AFT is alive and well. Over 200 members of the 181st Intelligence Wing, representing all the groups and Wing Headquarters deployed to Alpena.
     We have accomplished a lot of ancillary training, that would otherwise be very time consuming during a Unit Training Assembly. Training included: CPR refresher, Self Aid & Buddy Care (both computer and classroom), Information Protection/Force Protection, Human Relations, Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Explosive, Initial Security Briefing/ Information Assurance, and UCMJ/ICMJ (article 137) to name a few. The Wing Base Training and Education office offered AFOQT and AFCAT testing to deployed members, and also provided a much needed Train the Trainer class. In addition to ancillary training, multiple informational briefings were given by subject matter experts. 38 members (2 classes of 19 students) of the 181st attended CompT1A Security+ training. This very difficult class requires a large amount of study time outside the classroom and these students were afforded the much needed study time without the distractions of training at home station. As a result, all 38 students successfully passed the course. Deploying to Alpena has also provided some very unique training opportunities for the members of the Security Forces Squadron, the Medical Group, and our Services personnel. Members of these organizations have been able to dedicate the time needed to meet their respective unique training requirements; time that is not otherwise available at home station due to the mission needs of the Wing. Even though we sometimes struggle with the challenge of fitting all of our required ancillary training and AFSC specific training into each UTA weekend, we seem to make it work month after month. In reality, deploying to another location for AFT offers significant training benefits.
     Additionally, unit camaraderie takes place that, for many reasons, cannot occur at home station. Deployed AFT provides more opportunities for team building and unit cohesion. In a very relaxed atmosphere, unit members can better know their co-workers, learn more about each others families, and personally meet members from other duty sections on base. Members of the 181st also participated in a community event sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce.
     So, is deploying as a unit to perform Annual Field Training beneficial? Absolutely!