GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
A loud whistle cuts through the low murmur of students, all talking stops and you hear a shout of, “Incoming!” Everyone throws themselves to the ground and puts their hands over their ears. A large boom echoes throughout the field. These are the sounds of a training exercise taking place at the mock Forward Operating Base on Goodfellow Air Force Base, Feb. 28. This was a test of the skills learned throughout training courses that took place over the course of two days.
Fourteen students participated in the beta version of an updated Warrior Ancillary Specialized Training Program. The WASP program was originally developed and tested in October 2017 as a way to prepare Airmen to defend the base and refresh information about how to react in emergency situations.
“The whole point of the training was to prepare and help Airmen to be ready,” said Tech. Sgt. Mark Karas, 17th Security Forces Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of training. “Readiness tends to fall off if not kept in practice, I helped develop this course to bring over-all readiness back.”
The training for the original WASP took place over in one day. Courses were devoted to refreshing individuals on Self-Aid and Buddy Care and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense. There was also a course for Combat Arms Training and Maintenance. All of the refresher courses were given during one day, then the students went out to a simulated war environment to put the skills that they had been taught into practice.
“We leaned forward on the initiative and became one of the first bases to implement what the Air Education and Command commander wanted to do,” said Karas. “We had bases from all over calling and asking us how we were implementing the new program, and we were able to tell them we had already started courses and what we were doing.”
Restoring military readiness as the Department of Defense builds a more lethal force, was one of first lines of effort in a memorandum from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Because of this memorandum, the WASP program needed to be updated to include Ability to Survive and Operate.
“So we bulked up our curriculum to include what was required,” said Karas. “It was nice to be one of the first bases to have already implemented a program, so we just had to alter it and we were good to go.”
The Installation Deployment Officer, Ken Nelson also spoke on how many people came together to make this curriculum a reality. Specifically Wacey Cason, who coordinated with several other groups on base to get the students the equipment needed to complete the final training exercise.
Since the conception of the program in 2017, Karas has been at the forefront, developing the curriculum and looking for ways to include as many different scenarios as possible.
“Mark was instrumental in making this all happen,” said Nelson. “He was the one who was able to get the backbone and the guts of the program started and created the concept from everyone’s different ideas. But there were many others who helped make everything happen.”
After the training exercise finished everyone was brought back to the main camp and debriefed.
“They did an amazing job,” said Karas. “I think that it is partially due to the extra training, this is the first class to have the full three days worth of training, and I think it paid off.”
All-in-all, the beta class was considered a success and there will be many more classes to come. The ultimate goal is to have all of the permanent party Airmen on Goodfellow to go through the training.
“I am super proud of the way this program has come together,” said Karas. “Goodfellow is leading from the front, and setting the example of how this program can be successful.”