Senior Master Sgt. Tarri Lee, 86th Aerial Port, McChord Air Force Base, Wash., dons her Mission-Oriented Protective Posture 4 gear while in Norfolk, Va., Aug. 22 to Sept. 4 for the 86th APS' readiness assessment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Mary Hall)
Tech. Sgt. Patrick Mills, 86th Aerial Port, McChord Air Force Base, Wash., prepares to load cargo onto an aircraft with a 60K Tunner New Generation Service Loader while on the readiness assessment team in Norfolk, Va., Aug. 22 to Sept. 4. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Mary Hall)
by Senior Airman Patrick Cabellon
446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
9/18/2009 - MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Flexing their wartime readiness muscles as a team, more than 40 Reservists from the 86th Aerial Port Squadron participated in a readiness assessment exercise in Norfolk, Va., Aug. 22 to Sept. 4.
When a unit is required to be part of an operational readiness inspection, they can participate in the Readiness Assessment Team inspection program, or RAT, where an Inspector General team from Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., goes out to the unit's deployment site and observes and evaluates the unit on certain tasks. The unit is rated by the inspector and if a passing score is received, the unit is checked off on that particular job task or specialty for the ORI. Any tasks not performed still have to be completed at the ORI.
"The efforts the team put forward (at Norfolk) were exceptional," said Capt. Shannon Voytilla, 86th APS, RAT team chief. "They were a very confident and capable group."
"They hit us with different scenarios," said Master Sgt. Derek Abdella, 86th APS. "We would be doing our job when suddenly, we would find ourselves under a table in (Mission-Oriented Protective Posture 4) being quizzed on the Airman's Manual, waiting to hear an 'all clear' over the radio."
Most of the team was, at the very least, in MOPP 2 while on the RAT, said Sergeant Abdella. It was hot while they were in Virginia, especially when in MOPP 2 all day long, according to Sergeant Abdella and Captain Voytilla.
The RAT targeted some specific UTCs which include logistics readiness officer, air terminal superintendent, large as well as small air terminal package, portable weight scale, and land mobile radios.
Preliminary results from the RAT show a satisfactory rating for their equipment brought to the RAT and their ability to survive and operate, said Captain Voytilla. The 86th APS will not receive the final results from the RAT until the 446th Airlift Wing receives its final grade from the operational readiness inspection Oct. 25 to Nov. 1, he said.
However, their team did receive a couple of minor hits against them, which can serve as a nice "things to watch out for," heads up as the rest of the wing prepares for the ORI.
Items which need to be worked on are the operation of vehicles and machinery while MOPP 4 gear is donned, said the captain.
"They are very proficient at their jobs, but the MOPP gear really makes it a bit more challenging when operating vehicles and machinery," said Captain Voytilla. "We will start training in MOPP 4 in order to be a lot better at our jobs when working in such restrictive gear."
The aerial porters used to do a training course once a year with the use of MOPP 4 while performing their duties. The course was dropped about three years ago, according to the captain.
Some people got marked down because they had not changed over to the proper MOPP level, according to Captain Voytilla.
"They had turned down their radios to listen to one of the inspectors give instructions. They did not hear the order to change over to MOPP 4," said the captain.
Radios were the only form of communication being used to sound alarms, give orders to hydrate and pass information about the current weather conditions, said the captain.
"Overall, we learned a good amount from the RAT," said Captain Voytilla.
The RAT provided the team with knowledge and honed their skills at a team level as well as an individual one, said the captain.