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Ellsworth hones readiness during exercise

Firefighters from the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron scan the area for potential hazards while responding to a simulated attack during an operational readiness exercise at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 14, 2014. OREs are designed to prepare and train Airmen for any real world contingencies they may face. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anania Tekurio/Released)

Firefighters from the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron scan the area for potential hazards while responding to a simulated attack during an operational readiness exercise at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 14, 2014. OREs are designed to prepare and train Airmen for any real world contingencies they may face. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anania Tekurio/Released)

Airman 1st Class Matthew Sunderlin, 28th Operations Support Squadron intelligence analyst technician, provides a pre-flight brief to a B-1 aircrew prior to them stepping to the aircraft during a phase II operational readiness exercise at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 13, 2014. The intent of the exercise is to evaluate the wing's ability to meet wartime and contingency tasks of employing forces, sustaining forces and maintaining the ability to survive and operate in a deployed location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anania Tekurio/Released)

Airman 1st Class Matthew Sunderlin, 28th Operations Support Squadron intelligence analyst technician, provides a pre-flight brief to a B-1 aircrew prior to them stepping to the aircraft during a phase II operational readiness exercise at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 13, 2014. The intent of the exercise is to evaluate the wing's ability to meet wartime and contingency tasks of employing forces, sustaining forces and maintaining the ability to survive and operate in a deployed location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anania Tekurio/Released)

Ellsworth Airmen perform an engine run while donning Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear during a phase II operational readiness exercise, Feb. 13, 2014. MOPP 2 gear consists of chemical and biological warfare jacket and pants, protective rubber boots, and a helmet. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rebecca Imwalle/Released)

Ellsworth Airmen perform an engine run while donning Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear during a phase II operational readiness exercise, Feb. 13, 2014. MOPP 2 gear consists of chemical and biological warfare jacket and pants, protective rubber boots, and a helmet. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rebecca Imwalle/Released)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Airmen across the base engaged in an operational readiness exercise Feb. 12 to 14 designed to test their ability to meet wartime and contingency operations.

The ORE covered a variety of base and B-1 bomber operations, including employing and sustaining forces, maintaining the ability to survive and operate in a deployed location and demonstrating the capability of B-1 aircrews to rapidly deliver precision and non-precision airstrikes against enemy forces.

"We are an expeditionary Air Force and have a requirement to be ready to deploy forward and generate airpower from a wide variety of bases with varying threat conditions," said Col. Kevin Kennedy, 28th Bomb Wing commander. "Whether from an austere base under threat of short-notice air or ground attacks or from a well-established base under threat of ballistic missile attacks, we must be ready."

Ensuring the exercise was planned correctly involved numerous people working in concert with the 28th BW wing plans and programs office. The base was committed to meeting a diverse set of objectives, all-the-while dealing with some challenges related to real world commitments.

"With one squadron deployed and the rest of the base in some state of recovery from tiered readiness, we had to balance our exercise objectives with real world constraints," said Lt. Col. Barry Hutchison, 28th BW chief of wing plans and programs.

Hutchison, whose primary role during the ORE was scenario development, execution and critique, said this exercise was also designed to challenge command and control relationships and evaluate senior leaders' access and ability to act upon information while preventing adversaries from gaining and exploiting information.

Master Sgt. Jason Justice, 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production superintendent, served as a wing inspection team member assigned to monitor the exercise activities for the 28th Maintenance Group. He was responsible for monitoring Airmen completing maintenance operations and assisting with prepping aircraft.

"I documented any discrepancies and ensured our Airmen were following the guidelines for the exercise, wearing gear properly, things like that - all while getting the job done and generating aircraft," Justice said, adding that OREs are especially important due to the fact that Ellsworth handles the majority of B-1 combat operations in Southwest Asia.

"This wing provides a variety of airmen and capabilities to combatant commanders around the globe at a moment's notice," said Hutchison about the criticality of the exercise. "The world has an ever-evolving array of threats and we must hone our abilities to counter them."

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