173rd ARS Aircrew Members Improve Readiness with ATSO Training

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jason Wilson

The Air Force created ATSO training to combat the uncertainty of the changing global climate in which a high level of importance is placed on the ability to respond to external threats in an effective manner. ATSO training focuses on improving Airmen’s ability to perform their duties during circumstances that are less than perfect and improving the unit’s ability to respond to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.

“This is an opportunity to practice using and wearing the Aircrew Chemical Defense Ensemble,” said Maj. Tyler Sanberg, 173rd Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker pilot. “It allowed us to see how we would proceed to the aircraft, pre-flight the plane and potentially launch the aircraft all while wearing the chemical gear.”

The added gear of the ACDE brought challenges to task and routines that under normal circumstances would operate smoothly.

“Communication was difficult before I was able to plug into the aircraft,” said Sanberg. “Once I was able hear, the challenges were visual and mobility restrictions.”

During the training event some members of the 155th Air Refueling Wing were tasked to observe and assess the practical application of the training and to emphasize the importance of the ability to survive and operate.

“I am here to inspect and to identify problems,” said Master Sgt. Mathew Ellison, 173rd Air Refueling Squadron Wing Inspection Team member. “I am not looking for what people are doing wrong. I am looking for problems and working with others on base to fix those problems.”

The crewmembers involved in the training spoke positively about the impact and effectiveness of the ATSO.  Training events such as ATSO not only increases the skill level of Airmen and add career development, but also build squadron unity.

“It was a fun opportunity to practice the procedures and accomplish the pre-flight,” Sandberg said. “Opportunities like these refresh the procedural knowledge and are great for building confidence in knowing you can accomplish the mission in a real-world situation.”