OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --
The 557th Weather Wing joined the 55th Wing, Offutt Air Force Base’s host wing, for the Operational Readiness Exercise Winter Havoc.
Twenty-one Airmen from the 2nd Systems Operations Squadron, 2nd Weather Squadron and 16th Weather Squadron joined approximately 600 other Offutt AFB Airmen for the late January exercise, marking the first time the wing has partnered with the 55th WG for a mass readiness exercise since the 557th WW’s creation in 2015.
“The 557 WW demonstrated its capability to deliver ready weather and cyber forces in support of multi-domain operations against any adversary across the entire spectrum of conflict,” said Lt Col. Kenneth Roberts, 2nd Weather Support Squadron commander and 557th WW Crisis Action Team representative for the exercise.
This first phase of the exercise focused on pre-deployment preparations, getting Airmen ready to deploy and moving cargo. Phase two will continue in the spring.
Work began Jan. 14 as Airmen were chosen for the exercise. Those selected then completed pre-deployment tasks such as completing required training and getting vaccinations.
New to the process are the Air Force’s new electronic mobility folders, which streamline the process for the deployment managers and the Installation Deployment Readiness Center.
On Jan. 29, the participating Airmen gathered in the 557th WW headquarters building’s atrium to prepare for exercise processing. They received a briefing and words of encouragement from Col. Patrick Williams, 2nd Weather Group commander, then picked up mobility bags and prepared to depart for the IDRC.
“It was a really great opportunity to see how this base operates in a full up deployment,” said Staff Sgt. Jared Lindley, NCO in Charge, American Forces Network Weather Center. “It was so easy, they seemed like they do this every single day and made the experience exceptionally easy on the deployers.”
The 557th WW will expand its participation in the next exercise by utilizing its cyber Mission Defense Team as well as contributing tactical meteorological equipment to the deployment cargo.
“As we continue exercising our readiness capability, our team of cyber professionals will operate more closely with our host wing cyber forces as we partner together to secure our networks and improve our defensive cyberspace operations posture,” Roberts said. “These cyber partnerships allow us to critically think about and solve complex cyberspace security issues.”
The lessons learned will prove useful as the 557th WW prepares to conduct an exercise of its own.
“Overall, it was a good learning experience working with the 55th WG to simulate deploying a large group of people,” said David Sjostedt, 557th WW unit deployment manager. “We successfully proved our abilities, while simultaneously processing people for real world deployments.”