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March Chief's Perspective

Chief Master Sergeant Ronald Peelman, 169th Maintenance Group

Portrait of U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ronald Peelman, the 169th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Superintendent at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina Air National Guard, Feb. 1, 2019. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Caycee Watson)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

Can you believe it is March 2019? Time is screaming by. It seems like it was just last week we were recovering the deployed jets and welcoming the Swamp Foxes back from the latest deployment. Now, as I write this, the 169th Fighter Wing is getting ready for our mid-point inspection later in the year and preparing for a four-day Super Drill in March. We will exercise and test our ability to safely operate, surge, and do our jobs in a chemical warfare environment while wearing our chemical ensemble, the Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology. The base will be set up for wartime scenarios to include transition points, unit control centers, emergency operations center, self-aid buddy care, par team exercises, and unexploded ordinance marking/reporting.

You will probably hear several simulated explosions and see smoke around different parts of the base. The training scenarios can be pretty neat, but do you know how to respond? Do you remember what was covered in your last chemical warfare class? Having your Airman’s Quick Reference book close at hand will help ensure your ability to survive and operate. Remembering the rodeo skills training with Chief Master Sgt. Dwayne Ayers and his emergency management team, who know a ton about the chemical warfare/ATSO game, will be crucial during this Super Drill. These folks in emergency management do an awesome job conducting realistic ATSO training. They do more than teach annual chemical warfare exercise. They have trained extensively on how to properly don and wear the gas mask and JLIST (chem-gear) and how to operate and survive in a chemical warfare environment. Hopefully, we never have to use this training in the real world. However, do not take this training for granted. Each of us may never know when or where the next Air Expeditionary Force deployment will take us. We must be able to Fly, Fight, and Win wherever we are called. Be ready. And as far as ATSO training is concerned, trust me, when the alarms sound for real, you will want to know that your ensemble is properly velcroed, zipped, snapped and your mask has a good seal. Your life just may depend on it. Be Safe Swamp Foxes. Semper Primus!