OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --
Offutt Airmen battled through some of the coldest weather to hit Nebraska in decades as they participated in the first 2019 Operational Readiness Exercise held here January 28 – 30.
The exercise, appropriately named Winter Havoc, tested Offutt’s ability to process a large amount of troops and cargo.
“This was the first time we’ve done an exercise like this in six years,” said Installation Deployment Officer Capt. Samantha Dinardo, who is assigned to the 55th Logistics Readiness Squadron Installation Deployment Readiness Cell. “The scope of the cargo we processed was far larger than what a regular exercise would look like. So this was the first time pretty much the entire base has seen something like this.”
All together, the IDRC and Deployment Control Cell processed 120 increments of cargo, weighing 236.4 short tons, as well as 560 personnel and 10 simulated aircraft called chalks.
For a deployment of this size, 80 additional personnel from across Offutt were trained to augment the IDRC.
The three day exercise ran around the clock and many personnel worked 12 hour shifts. Dinardo said that the size of the exercise as well as the cold weather challenged her team.
Those who worked outdoors with cargo faced frigid temperatures that barely broke zero with wind chills that felt like negative 30 degrees. As a result, personnel had to work in cycles.
“It was cold,” said Staff Sgt. Jianna Goto, 55th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron decentralized material support supervisor. “We just dressed warmly, and after a couple of minutes in the cold, we would go back inside the scale house or inside the building to warm up.”
The cold weather also caused two tractors to break slowing down operations.
Dinardo said the experience gained by her staff and the augmentees will go a long way towards future exercises and deployments.
“We did a decent job,” Dinardo said. “But these things come with practice, and unless we keep practicing it, we won’t get better.”