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Fox EMBER 24 training exercise expands, goes joint

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Amy Rangel
  • 169th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Now in its second year, the Emergency Management Battlefield Expeditionary Response training, also known as Fox EMBER, was bigger and better compared to last year’s inaugural event. Eighteen Airmen from the South Carolina Air National Guard returned to the McCrady Training Center in Eastover and trained alongside 44 military personnel from seven states plus one territory May 31-June 9, 2024.

The 169th Civil Engineer Squadron's Emergency Management flight pioneered this immersive training last year. The goal of the training is to replicate realistic wartime chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear scenarios to hone everyone’s skills and to ensure a high state of readiness.

Building on Fox EMBER 23’s success, which consisted of several Air National Guard units, this year's iteration expanded in scope to include active-duty U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, and South Carolina Army National Guard participants. It was a true joint exercise.

The joint environment of Fox EMBER was an excellent opportunity to field test new equipment and capabilities, according to U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Jamie Powell, installation emergency manager assigned to the 169th Civil Engineer Squadron and Fox EMBER exercise lead.

"The increased footprint of Fox EMBER 24 allowed us to train together, share knowledge, and build working relationships," said Powell. "We bolstered our training on HAZMAT, sampling, evidence collection, and TCCC [Tactical Combat Casualty Care]."

Another advantage Powell described was the ability to form smaller strike teams and incorporate more targets and elements of surprise to execute in the mock village.

The collaboration enabled SCANG participants to simulate their new Outside the Wire mission in as closely to real-world conditions as possible and help all three services accomplish their training objectives.

Airmen sharpened their skills in five critical Emergency Management areas outlined this year to enhance their response capabilities. These areas included chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear plotting, hazard identification, decontamination operations, physically and mentally fit/capable Airmen, and combat skills training. Medics from the South Carolina Army National Guard’s Medical Command supported with TCCC training and exercise support in the form of training casualties and simulated weapons.

On the exercise’s capstone day, U.S. Marine Corps Reservists from the 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion executed exfiltration operations as they transported Airmen from the battlefield to the tactical operations center.

"Fox EMBER presented a dynamic and enjoyable venue for fulfilling training requirements and honing combat skills. It was an excellent opportunity for FEMA Region 4 to come together, collaborate, train, and overall enhance each shop's capabilities," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Zachary Cates, emergency management specialist assigned to the 117th Civil Engineer Squadron.

Powell concluded that large-scale training events like Fox EMBER yield benefits to all services who participate.

"It is not time or cost-effective to set up these training scenarios at individual bases," said Powell. "By pooling resources and setting up larger events, we are able to get more of our Airmen trained to a higher level."