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To Survive and Operate

169th Fighter Wing, Airmen participate in the Ability To Survive and Operate (ATSO) training in the base hanger, December 9, 2012, McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C. This training is being conducted in large venues throughout the December UTA to reduce time spent on computer based training and get a more hands on training to be prepared for the unit's upcoming Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI).   (National Guard photo by Staff Sgt Jorge Intriago/Released)

169th Fighter Wing, Airmen participate in the Ability To Survive and Operate (ATSO) training in the base hanger, December 9, 2012, McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C. This training is being conducted in large venues throughout the December UTA to reduce time spent on computer based training and get a more hands on training to be prepared for the unit's upcoming Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI). (National Guard photo by Staff Sgt Jorge Intriago/Released)

169th Fighter Wing, Airmen participate in the Ability To Survive and Operate (ATSO) training in the base hanger, December 9, 2012, McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C. This training is being conducted in large venues throughout the December UTA to reduce time spent on computer based training and get a more hands on training to be prepared for the unit's upcoming Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI).   (National Guard photo by Staff Sgt Jorge Intriago/Released)

169th Fighter Wing, Airmen participate in the Ability To Survive and Operate (ATSO) training in the base hanger, December 9, 2012, McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C. This training is being conducted in large venues throughout the December UTA to reduce time spent on computer based training and get a more hands on training to be prepared for the unit's upcoming Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI). (National Guard photo by Staff Sgt Jorge Intriago/Released)

169th Fighter Wing, Airmen participate in the Ability To Survive and Operate (ATSO) training in the base hanger, December 9, 2012, McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C. This training is being conducted in large venues throughout the December UTA to reduce time spent on computer based training and get a more hands on training to be prepared for the unit's upcoming Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI).   (National Guard photo by Staff Sgt Jorge Intriago/Released)

169th Fighter Wing, Airmen participate in the Ability To Survive and Operate (ATSO) training in the base hanger, December 9, 2012, McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C. This training is being conducted in large venues throughout the December UTA to reduce time spent on computer based training and get a more hands on training to be prepared for the unit's upcoming Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI). (National Guard photo by Staff Sgt Jorge Intriago/Released)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- Each Airman's ability to survive and operate, commonly known as ATSO, allows him or her to conduct business as usual during harsh Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Enhanced Conventional Weapons attacks.

During drill weekends, the Airmen of the 169th Fighter Wing are expected to perform their routine duties in an extremely short amount of time, and, in the coming months, their ability to do so will be tested by time-consuming exercises in preparation for November's Operational Readiness Inspection. In an effort to assist them, the emergency management office developed an ATSO training course that alleviates the time crunch. The class is a combination of computer based and hands-on training.

Master Sgt. Jamie Powell works full time for the command post and on drill weekends he is the lead noncommissioned officer for this new training. He and his team created a class that condenses four hours of CBT and hands-on training into an hour and 20 minutes.

"Our ATSO course has benefits over the individual CBT and hands-on courses," he said. "This training is interactive and incorporates specific visual aids that pertain to our ORI."

Participants show up wearing their mission oriented protective posture and receive a short interactive presentation on the proper wear of the new MOPP equipment and M50 gas mask. The class then breaks into smaller groups to receive instruction on more detailed items at three stations. Station one includes ATSO general knowledge and decontamination and contamination avoidance. Station two focuses on zone transition points and how to move about in a chemical environment. The final station teaches how to read and report a SALUTE (size, activity, location, unit, time, and equipment) report, how to report unexploded ordnance and what to do when post attack recon teams come into contact with casualties.

Powell said, "We introduce you to the terminology and get you back in the game. The class gives you the tools to survive and operate."