OSAN AB, Republic of Korea -- --
Forty-eight members of the Nebraska Air National Guard's 155th Air Refueling Wing traveled to Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, for a hands-on, job-specific training with active duty counterparts, April 4-18.
The Nebraska Air National Guard sent Airmen from nine shops to the overseas base for two-weeks to seamlessly integrate with their active duty counterparts. During those two weeks, the Guard members witnessed the fast-pace and broad operations tempos, compared shop operations of active duty versus Guard, and prepared themselves for operations and possible future deployments.
Many of the Nebraska Airmen who traveled to ROK are in up-grade training, where core tasks are assigned to an Airman's specific job, and must be practiced. The Airmen must demonstrate proficiency and be able to perform the task on their own prior to having each item signed off and upgraded to their next level of training.
Airmen from petroleum, oils and lubricants, material management, traffic management office, communications, force Support, air transportation, vehicle operations, vehicle maintenance and public affairs, traveled to the 51st Fighter Wing to incorporate into active duty missions to remain proficient in their jobs, as well as assist the active duty Air Force with their mission.
Senior Master Sgt. Paul Sabatka, acting troop commander and the 155th Logistics Readiness Squadron's first sergeant said, "It's amazing to be able to integrate with the active duty and to be a part of global peace. If the military was not here, it would be a whole different story around the world, as far as unrest in this region."
Sabatka continued, "To be a part of that is amazing and we have had the opportunity to integrate with the active duty, something we don't necessarily get to do at home, and it's been a great experience."
According to Sabatka, the 155th Air Transportation shop presented this training opportunity to the entire Nebraska Air National Guard, and nine shops took the opportunity to send Airmen to the Republic of Korea to receive active duty training.
The 155th Air Transportation shop's mission requires world-wide travel annually to one of eight bases in order to receive hands-on training with active duty. The pilots and flight crew were able to receive overseas flight time, and the aircraft was filled with Airmen needing two-weeks of annual training, many required specific trainings that could only be conducted away from home base.
"This experience as a whole, I have talked to many people and they never thought that they would be in Osan, Korea, performing their duties," said Sabatka. "This is an awesome, experience and I hope that everyone realizes that they are a part of something big. I hope they understand we are a part of global peace."
Master Sgt. Adam Dytrych, 155th Air Transportation superintendent, explained that his Airmen are training and practicing for mobilization. In the last four years, 18 air transportation Airmen have deployed, so they need to be prepared and set up for success.
"We have unique opportunities that we get to see and do things that we would normally never get to see or do," Dytrych said. "This is a real-world mobilization and mission, and we get to do that here day in and day out. It's not even really practice; we are really doing the mission."
The purpose of this temporary duty assignment for new air transportation Airmen was to put the whole puzzle together for them and see the entire process in action, said Dytrych.
"Normally, they read in a text book, or they get taught in career development courses, then they come here and until you really see it and have eyes-on and hands-on practical experience, they cannot be proficient at their job without having an experience like this," said Dytrych. "They get to see how it all ties together and how big the mission is."
"I am proud of how the guys have come over here and integrated right in with the active duty," Dytrych added. "It is sobering. The traditional [Airmen] train every month. Then to have them come here and see how efforts pan out over here is very impressive. Everybody is professional. It is a good feeling.
According to the Airmen that conducted their annual training in ROK, the training was more beneficial than an average annual training at their homestation.
Master Sgt. Jamison Nitz, 155th Vehicle Maintenance supervisor said it was important for him and his two troops to receive their annual training on an active duty base because there are many vehicles the Nebraska Air Guard does not utilize. If the opportunity to deploy arose, these three vehicle maintenance specialists have experience on multiple vehicles that are not available to maintain at home base.
"We are here to assist the active duty and to get the training that we need," said Nitz. "We are here to help out, receive training and assist the active duty in getting some extra work done."
Nitz said, on a past deployment, he maintained many vehicles he had never seen or operated before, which was not fun, since he had not received formal training. He said if members of the vehicle maintenance shop had the opportunity to travel to an active duty base annually, they also would encounter vehicles they do not regularly maintain, which is helpful for their future.
"That is experience that [they] can always take with them to any base that they go to or any deployment they go on," said Nitz. "They can always take that experience with them, that is still invaluable training. We need that training."
Master Sgt. Sherri Bejvancesky, who recently cross-trained into airfield management, and Senior Airman Anthony Ewing, said they saw the opportunity to receive valuable training on items on their core task list that they could not receive at home base due to different missions and equipment available, and were glad to join in this training experience.
"This is a great training opportunity for the two of us that are in upgrade training to have 15 of the 32 training requirements, our core tasks, signed off, for our upgrade training that we would not be able to do or get accomplished at home," said Bejvancesky. "Ultimately, we would have to go somewhere else. We would have to go up to Offutt Air Force Base, which sometimes they don't have the exact equipment or aircraft to get the item checked off."
Bejvancesky said the mission at home differs greatly due to a less active operations tempo and less diverse aircraft.
"At Lincoln, we have a shared runway and we don't have the opportunities like we would here, to do our job," said Bejvancesky. "During our time here, we were able to conduct airfield inspections and airfield checks.
"They had an inspection and they have fighter jets," Bejvancesky added. "They had a bird strike which activated an in-flight emergency and had to respond with a quick reaction checklist and notified all of their agencies on base."
One of the greatest advantages of sending nine shops from the Nebraska Air National Guard to Osan Air Base was networking with the active duty: sharing ideas on what processes work within each shop, how active duty versus Guard run their shops, and swap ideas to use at home and abroad.
"We can interact, jump in and do our job with active duty and be a total force, one force, with active duty," said Bejvancesky. "We came here for the training opportunity and see how they do things."