127th ARG gets training support from Air Guard community

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Anna-Marie Wyant
  • 127th Public Affairs
The 127th Air Refueling Group, Michigan Air National Guard, welcomed personnel from six out-of-state Air National Guard units to evaluate a readiness exercise during their January drill weekend.

This exercise is one of four such exercises the group will face this year, along with support personnel from several other units in the wing. It is normal for flying units to practice multiple readiness exercises annually to ensure operations run smoothly in everyday situations and under special circumstances.

The exercise evaluation teams consisted of Air National Guardsmen from KC-135 units in Iowa, Maine, Utah, Illinois, Alaska, and New Hampshire. Having various units throughout the ANG primarily evaluating maintenance and operations of the 127th Wing's KC-135 missions is helpful because they can give fresh and experienced perspectives, said Capt. Brian Wyrzykowski, the 127th ARG Exercise Director.  The 127th Air Refueling Group is relatively new to the mission, having recently converted from flying C-130s to KC-135s in 2008.

Two exercise evaluation teams oversee the readiness drills: one for maintenance and the other for operations. Both the evaluators and those being evaluated benefit from working with Guard units from different states, said Senior Master Sgt. Theodore C. Dutcher, the Maintenance Exercise Evaluation Team Chief from the 151st ARG based in Salt Lake City.

"We take great pleasure in helping our Guard family," Dutcher said. "Our job is to teach and mentor, not just evaluate."

Dutcher, who has been working maintenance on air refueling aircraft, commonly known as tankers, for over 20 years, said the 127th ARG shows a great deal of drive and motivation to learn.

"They just need some extra practice and fine-tuning of procedures," Dutcher said. "The 127th will far exceed even their own expectations."

Maj. E. M. Latimer, the Operations Exercise Evaluation Team Chief from the 185th ARG based in Sioux City, Iowa, said the 127th ARG has improved since their last readiness exercise in August.

"It's a really complex mission," said Latimer, who has been evaluating readiness exercises for seven years. "It's good to learn how other units do theirs."

The sharing of ideas among Guard units helps those units improve every year, Wyrzykowski said. "It enhances the overall product the Guard provides to the (Air Force) tanker community."