SMOKY HILL AIR NATIONAL GUARD RANGE, Kan. --
Making quick and effective decisions in high-stress environments is one of the most important characteristics of an Air Force officer. Here’s how Kansas State University and the Kansas Air National Guard are partnering to develop future officers.
Cadets attending Kansas State University’s Air Force ROTC program seized the opportunity to train with experienced Airmen at Smoky Hill Air National Guard Range near Salina, April 24.
“We have the 284th [Air Support Operations Squadron], the 10th [Air Support Operations Squadron], and Smoky Hill Air National Guard Range out here teaching us the things they do every day,” said Cadet 1st Lt. Jillian Hayne, public affairs officer, Detachment 270, Kansas State University Air Force ROTC. “So we get to learn directly from the experts.”
The one-day exercise exposed cadets to combat scenarios designed to bring out leadership qualities and enhance decision-making skills in a fast-paced, high-stress environment.
“The main goal is to learn realistic and practical skills,” said Hayne. “You never know when we might be in a [stressful] situation, whether we’re in a deployed environment or even while active duty.”
Four training stations were located at the MOUT villages at the base of Soldiers Cap, a landmark hill at Smoky Hill ANG Range. The MOUT villages are made of empty shipping containers arranged in such a way that resemble make-shift neighborhoods in overseas locations.
Training stations included land navigation, open-field small unit tactics, close-quarter small unit tactics, and rescue/recovery operations.
Airmen assigned to the 10th ASOS, stationed at Fort Riley; the 284th ASOS and Smoky Hill ANG Range taught the cadets advanced skills, and acted as opposing forces to make the scenarios realistic.
The training was designed to prepare the cadets for an upcoming two-week field training exercise that’s part of their Air Force ROTC grade.
“The event is called Vigilant Warrior; you’re out in the field for three or four days and you’re doing scenarios,” said Hayne. “You’re doing downed pilot and casualty rescue scenarios just like these, and you’re evaluated on it.”
Hayne said that Detachment 270 emphasizes the importance of decision making, and field training helps reinforce those lessons.
“I think it’s teaching us that, we’re going to be in stressful situations,” said Hayne. “Dealing with that stress and evaluating it, we can say, ‘Okay, here’s what’s happening and this is what we’re going to do.’”
“A lot of it is, learning to make a decision.”
Smoky Hill ANG Range is a geographically separated unit assigned to the Kansas Air National Guard’s 184th Wing at McConnell Air Force Base. At 34,000 acres, it’s the largest and busiest combat training range in the Air National Guard.
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