134th guardsmen train with 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall

  • Published
  • By By Tech. Sgt. Daniel Gagnon
  • 134th Air Refueling Wing
Tennessee guardsmen from the 134th Air Refueling Wing traveled to RAF Mildenhall, England for annual training June 11-22.

During the two-week temporary duty Airmen completed training and worked with their active-duty counterparts learning best practices to bring home. Working with active-duty Airmen was mutually beneficial, allowing both active duty and traditional guardsmen to accomplish necessary training.

“It’s outstanding training because we get away from the unit, integrate with active-duty and learn how they do things,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Pinkard, 134th ARW deputy mission support group commander. “It allows us to be more prepared for how we could deploy and be ready for those types of missions.”

134th Guardsmen also volunteered to assist the 100th ARW with their inspection by portraying victims in a terrorist attack response exercise. Airmen spent several hours having simulated wounds applied to limbs, head and torso. This is referred to as “moulage”, which is French for “casting”. Moulage helps give a realistic element to training by creating a dramatic visual of injuries that could occur.

“It gives us an opportunity to compare active-duty exercises with the Air National Guard,” said Lt. Col. James Blanton, 134th Air Refueling Wing inspector general. “It allows us to observe how Mildenhall does their exercises and how we can benefit from their practices and processes.”

The Airmen worked together seamlessly and the experience provided valuable training for both parties.

“We were thrilled that the 134th ARW volunteered to participate in our challenging exercises, specifically the protests and vehicle ramming scenarios,” said Capt. Joseph Brzozowske, 100th ARW chief wing readiness inspector. “I was very happy and appreciative for Lt. Cols. Blanton and Thiele’s expertise on the Inspector General side.”

One specific training the Airmen found beneficial was the Individual Airman Professional Development class. The course was designed to help Airmen achieve success and develop interpersonal relationships. It taught Airmen about different personalities, strengths and potential relationship pitfalls and how best to work with the differences.

Training helps Airmen learn to work as a team, but experiencing “down time” together is equally important. Morale and welfare trips reduce stress and create an atmosphere for bonding with others. Most members on the TDY took advantage of the off days to visit London and the surrounding areas as well as nearby countries like Scotland, Ireland, France and Spain.

“We have people from different sections that did not know each other, but through this TDY, now they do,” said Pinkard. “This will benefit us back at home station for years to come.”

The 134th ARW Airmen benefit from these trips with improved skills and morale. However, collaboration between guardsmen and active duty Airmen strengthen the total force mentality which benefits the Air Force as a whole.

“The leaders I’ve met here have been very excited about the interaction, teamwork and integration of our unit with them and have welcomed us back,” said Pinkard. “We will definitely keep the 100th ARW on our short list of places to come back to.”