JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --
Members of the West Virginia Air National Guard worked alongside Sailors and Airmen at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam as part of a total-force-integration training opportunity, held May 13-24.
The team of 69 guardsmen, based out of the 167th Air Wing, in Martinsburg, focused on improving their ability to function in a total-force environment by working alongside active duty members from the 15th Wing and the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing.
“From the minute we met with the force support squadron from the 15th Wing and Hawaii Air National Guard, they were immediately welcoming,” said 2nd Lt. Margaret Mayberry, 167th Force Support Squadron acting commander and services flight chief. “We could get a sense of the ‘aloha spirit’ and family. They immediately wanted to show us around and learn from us as much as we wanted to learn from them.”
For active duty service members, it’s normal to have a wide exposure to other bases, as members are constantly moving from station to station every few years. But for members of the Air National Guard, the majority of staff will remain at their home station for long periods of time. It’s through annual training opportunities, such as this, that help diversify and influence daily operations.
Mayberry and other mission planners crafted a diverse schedule for their time on island, which enabled the West Virginia Airmen to spend half of their work-days with active-duty units and the other half with local guardsmen — an opportunity which is not available at their home station.
“Seeing active duty and guard units and how they work with each other is really valuable for us,” said Mayberry, “because when you’re within your own bubble and not actively training with other joint forces, you’re not going to be able to see and understand the benefits of other practices.”
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam hosts partnered units on a regular basis in order to combine their capabilities with joint and bilateral forces and other military components.
Due to an ongoing flow of deployment taskings, some departments on-island are left understaffed. Tech. Sgt. Matthew Pyne, 154th Logistics Readiness Squadron Individual Protective Equipment and Individual Equipment Element NCO in charge, said his team is always excited to work with visiting units because it helps them to take on large projects and learn new organizational skills.
“They were very knowledgeable in the inventory section,” said Pyne. “We are doing a full-scale inventory right now for our ‘chem gear’ and now we’re pulling back about 2,000 M-50 masks. They showed us different ways to consolidate our equipment, so now we have more space to do our inventory and work more effectively.”
The West Virginia Airmen also integrated with several other squadrons and sections from both air wings, to include Force Support, Logistics Readiness, Contracting, Communications, and Public Affairs.
At the end of each duty day, Airmen gathered to discuss the lessons learned and review their experiences, such as refueling an F-22 Raptor for the first time or helping administer a routine physical fitness test.
“It’s been highly rewarding to create new partnerships here,” said Mayberry. “As a leader, some of the wonderful pieces I've seen is how my Airmen have been able to collaborate with new teams and see how quickly they can apply new concepts. Not only with other guard units, but active duty as well. It helps us to understand the importance of the total-force mission. So when there’s a need for us to work at a deployed location, I’m confident that we can all work together.”