Patriot Warrior: Reserve Citizen Airmen lead the way

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. James Fontanella

For nearly 70 years, the Air Force Reserve has served as a cornerstone to the defense of our nation by providing combat-ready forces to meet the needs of commanders all over the world.

With nearly 70,000 highly experienced and fully capable Reserve Citizen Airmen, we are able to leverage this innovative and cost-effective force on a global scale with the same operational capabilities as our One Air Force and sister services. Whether in air, space or cyber space, our Citizen Airmen provide the nation with the flexibility, agility and experience to dominate the multi-dimensional battlefield of the future.

This capability doesn’t just happen. It requires constant training in real-world scenarios and environments that prepare our men and women to operate under volatile, uncertain and complex conditions in every corner of the world. This is the meaning of readiness.

This is why we train and demonstrate Reserve Airpower in Air Force Reserve Command’s Exercise Patriot Warrior 2017. During this exercise, about 570 Citizen Airmen from around the country have come together at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, along with more than 10,000 international and joint partners, to showcase our contingency deployment capabilities and restore readiness to win any fight any time. Through Aug. 24, Reservists started from a bare bones location and stood up a fully operational base equipped with mobile hospitals accepting injured patients flown in on aircraft over the course of several days.

Reservists from every skill level and many career fields, including security forces, aeromedical evacuation, aviation, medical, maintenance, comptroller, civil engineering, explosive ordnance disposal and logistics, among others, participate alongside our partners to gain the knowledge and experience to fly, fight and win under austere conditions wherever they are needed.

Throughout the exercise, our Reserve Citizen Airmen are facing real-world scenarios involving command and control operations, land navigation, air drops, aeromedical evacuation, patient care, small arms training, EOD tactical operations, patrols, explosives training and cargo processing.

The aircraft we are using highlight our various mobility and aeromedical evacuation assets such as the C-5M Super Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules, KC-135 Stratotanker and C-40 Clipper. For the first time, aircraft are assigned specifically to the exercise. The 403rd Wing from Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, and the 908th Airlift Wing from Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, are both providing a C-130 to add an additional level of authenticity to Patriot Warrior.

Fort McCoy is the perfect location for this annual exercise because service members are completely immersed in an environment replicating the deployed mindset for multiple weeks working together with joint and coalition forces just as they do when our nation calls.

One aspect of our unique Reserve force is the civilian work experience we bring to the Air Force mission. Our incredible Reserve Citizen Airmen bring unmatched skillsets, innovative thinking and agility that provide daily strategic depth and operational capability to our forces and the mission.

Patriot Warrior is an AFRC-focused exercise including Exercise Global Medic and is managed and planned by our Force Generation Center through involvement of functional area managers and subject-matter experts within our headquarters located at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.

I’d like to thank each of our outstanding Reserve Citizen Airmen for their hard work and dedication throughout Patriot Warrior. Your unmatched flexibility and professionalism is exactly what our senior leaders and the American people expect of you.