NORTH – Airmen from New Jersey and South Carolina recently came together at the North Auxiliary Airfield to test their ability to operate in a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear environment.
The airmen of the 437th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Charleston, and 621st Contingency Response Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, combined capabilities and shared assets during Exercise Crescent Moon from Jan. 29 to Jan. 31.
Lt. Col. Mike Durband, 321st Contingency Response Squadron commander, said North Auxiliary Airfield is an ideal location to conduct training like this, providing a quality environment and a chance to build upon partnerships.
“The Joint Base Charleston airmen and CRW airmen have worked together all over the world,” Durband said. ”So Joint Base Charleston is a natural location. It’s a place we’re used to and we like to come here to continue our relationship.”
The exercise tested mobility and contingency response airmen’s readiness to conduct mobility operations in a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear environment. Participants were required to complete airfield tasks during mission-oriented protective posture levels and while wearing personal protective equipment.
Aircrews from the 437th AW provided C-17 Globemaster III airlift support to add realism to the training experience for airmen on the ground. Airmen were required to load cargo on and off a simulated contaminated aircraft safely while in MOPP level 4, a level where Airmen are required to wear all personal protective equipment.
“For the 621st CRW, we provided a realistic environment where a plane actually came in, assault landed quickly, exited the runway and opened up to receive an on-load,” said 1st Lt. Dennis Parker, 14th Airlift Squadron executive officer and exercise participant.
“It was definitely a challenge for both teams to operate under the limited communication ability which is incurred in that environment. This allowed them to experience and know what they might be dealing with,” he said.
Staff Sgt. John Lee and Senior Airman Paul Chavis, both of the 628th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management, set up a contamination control area, providing contingency response airmen an opportunity to get hands-on training. Lee and Chavis also provided instruction, if needed, and evaluated the airmen’s proficiency during the decontamination process.
“If they get ‘dirty’ in a contaminated environment, the CCA is designed to help them get clean and safe,” Chavis said. “Learning the best practices through this exercise is going to help them in the long run. This is very important in terms of the mission and making sure we’re doing it safely. This CCA helps them do their jobs safely and securely without being contaminated.”
From transporting cargo to decontaminating themselves, airmen of the 621st CRW sharpened their skills during Exercise Crescent Moon alongside aircrews from the 437th Airlift Wing.
“Other units have supported us and now it’s our turn to give back and support them in their training,” Parker said. “Now airmen involved in both ground and air aspects of the fight know the difficulties and how to overcome them in these types of environments.”
“Being able to operate in a simulated CBRN environment, the airmen learn and reinforce their training,” Durband said. “It really builds confidence. You can tell they’re a little unsure in the beginning but, by the end, they’re operating and doing their job. The CRW is proving it out here.”
Situated three miles east of the town of North, the 2,400-acre North Auxiliary Airfield is owned by the U.S. Air Force and is used primarily for C-17 Globemaster III training by the 437th Airlift Wing and its Air Force Reserve "Associate" unit, the 315th Airlift Wing, at Charleston Air Force Base.