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Mission Support Group participates in FTX

Airmen from the 120th Mission Support Group, Montana Air National Guard, perform convoy training during a field training exercise April 30, 2016, at Fort Harrison in Helena, Mont. The Airmen were able to meet readiness requirements and sharpen contingency skills in a simulated combat environment during the training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Christy Mason)

Airmen from the 120th Mission Support Group, Montana Air National Guard, perform convoy training during a field training exercise April 30, 2016, at Fort Harrison in Helena, Mont. The Airmen were able to meet readiness requirements and sharpen contingency skills in a simulated combat environment during the training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Christy Mason)

Airmen from the 120th Mission Support Group, Montana Air National Guard, perform convoy training during a field training exercise April 30, 2016, at Fort Harrison in Helena, Mont. The Airmen were able to meet readiness requirements and sharpen contingency skills in a simulated combat environment during the training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Christy Mason)

Airmen from the 120th Mission Support Group, Montana Air National Guard, perform convoy training during a field training exercise April 30, 2016, at Fort Harrison in Helena, Mont. The Airmen were able to meet readiness requirements and sharpen contingency skills in a simulated combat environment during the training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Christy Mason)

An Airman from the 120th Civil Engineer Squadron, Montana Air National Guard, provides over watch from a Humvee during convoy training April 30, 2016, at Fort Harrison in Helena, Mont. Members of the 120th Mission Support Group participated in a field training exercise that tested their contingency skills in a simulated combat environment. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Christy Mason)

An Airman from the 120th Civil Engineer Squadron, Montana Air National Guard, provides over watch from a Humvee during convoy training April 30, 2016, at Fort Harrison in Helena, Mont. Members of the 120th Mission Support Group participated in a field training exercise that tested their contingency skills in a simulated combat environment. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Christy Mason)

Airmen from the 120th Civil Engineer Squadron, Montana Air National Guard, engage with oppositional forces during a training exercise April 30, 2016, at Fort Harrison in Helena, Mont. Members of the 120th Mission Support Group participated in a field training exercise that tested their contingency skills in a simulated combat environment. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Christy Mason)

Airmen from the 120th Civil Engineer Squadron, Montana Air National Guard, engage with oppositional forces during a training exercise April 30, 2016, at Fort Harrison in Helena, Mont. Members of the 120th Mission Support Group participated in a field training exercise that tested their contingency skills in a simulated combat environment. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Christy Mason)

GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- Nearly 90 Montana Air National Guard Airmen participated in a field training exercise at Fort Harrison, Mont. during the May Regularly Scheduled Drill.

Col. Ryck Cayer, 120th Mission Support Group Commander, said he wanted to conduct the field training exercise to bring his group's squadrons together to execute the mission while integrated. His hope was to build espirit de corps while allowing the squadrons to maintain their own identities.

The exercise was the first consolidated training for the unit; the squadrons typically conduct separate training events.

"Traditionally, the 120th Mission Support Group's squadrons really did their training independently from one another, however, our missions are so closely related that to do our missions in the field in a deployed environment we support one another so it's important that we train that way," Cayer said.

Both the 120th Civil Engineering Squadron and the 120th Security Forces Squadron participated in the exercise during the May drill, sending approximately 35 Airmen each supported by additional Airmen from the communications, services, and logistics areas, Cayer said.

"Personally I think this is the environment where you really get to know your teammates, comradery really builds, teamwork builds and morale is sky high," Cayer said.  

"Our training objectives for this weekend are to familiarize ourselves with field operations," said Staff Sgt. Lance Turner, a firefighter with 120th CES. "We are practicing some field skills, particularly land navigation, patrol movements and fighting positions, and most importantly convoy operations."

Airmen from vehicle operations drove the vehicles used to conduct convoy operations training, said Staff Sgt. Justin Slobuszewski, a vehicle operations supervisor.

"We are the drivers for all the vehicles so that all the different sections can do their training for their attack, IED [improvised explosive device], and complex attack training," Slobuszewski said.

Slobuszewski, said that in addition to facilitating training for the civil engineers the exercise is beneficial for his Airmen as well, since they usually drive civilian style vehicles and don't frequently get to operate m-series vehicles.     

"It's always a great thing when we can learn to work together as a team," Turner said. "That's really where the rubber meets the road."  

Radio communications for the exercise and a direct communications link back to the command post in Great Falls, Mont. were provided by three Airmen from the 120th Communications Flight, according to Tech. Sgt. Michael Hedrick, a ground radio communications specialist.

"We're providing radio support and command and control while they are out there doing their convoys," Hedrick said. 

Meals were provided to the Airmen participating in the training by four Airmen from the 120th Services Sustainment Flight, said Master Sgt. Bill Rice, dining hall manager.
The field training exercise afforded an opportunity for the services Airmen to train in a deployed working environment.

"Here it's real field conditions," Rice said. "We're not hooked up to a water supply and we don't have a power supply, so those are the things we're dealing with this drill."

The services Airmen utilized the unit's disaster relief mobile kitchen unit to prepare hot meals and box lunches to the Airmen participating in the exercise, which Rice said can be set up and ready to cook meals in almost any environment in 30-40 minutes.

"The perception is field training is not fun, but when you get everyone out here and you go through it together it can be rigorous, but just like anything that is a challenge when you accomplish that feat together." Cayer said. "I think people come out with a feeling of great accomplishment."

For Turner, who is a teacher, a father, a husband and a former Marine, the training in a field environment drove home the very real nature of his military job.

"To have that training and feel that I have the skills to do the job that I might have to do is extremely important to me," Turner said. "Anytime I can get that training and that realism is important for me and my professional outlook as a Guardsman."
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