NEWS | March 11, 2015

APS teams conduct joint training in preparation for Port Dawg Challenge

By Capt. Michaela Judge 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 81st Aerial Port Squadron here teamed up with the 27th Aerial Port Squadron from Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station in Minnesota March 7-8 to conduct joint training at Joint Base Charleston S.C. in preparation for their upcoming Port Dawg Challenge.

The joint atmosphere served a two-fold purpose: to allow 81st APS Airmen an opportunity to have hands-on time with the C-130 and to provide the 27th APS exposure to the Global Air Transportation Execution System here, a single port/terminal processing and management system for the Department of Defense.

"[The 81st] has two teams out here today - there is a ramp team practicing [engine running on-load/off-load] for the C-130 because we rarely get C-130s in here--so they are doing this as part of their regular training, said Tech Sgt. Christopher Girardeau, 81st APS air transportation specialist. "There is another smaller team for the Port Dawg Challenge that will be going to compete against other Reserve teams from across the nation at Dobbins [Air Reserve Base], Georgia,"

The 81st found value in the training, since similar scenarios will be tested during the upcoming challenge.

Girardeau said that during the competition this summer there will be a C-130 doing an engine running on-load/off-load where the teams will have to upload, chain down and conduct all of the proper aerial port procedures.

"This is our only chance to do this with a C-130 before we actually compete," he said.

The 27th APS also gained a unique opportunity to have exposure to a system that isn't available at their home station.

"[The 27th APS] came to Charleston to train because it's an active-duty base and there is more to train on, such as GATES - [which] our unit does not have," said Senior Airman Brandi Tepe, 27th APS load planner.

GATES is an effective command and control tool, aiding scheduling of unit and cargo movement, shipment forecasting, report generation, and message routing and delivery, according to an article from the Transportation Command website.

Though the training focused on preparation for their upcoming challenge, the lessons learned during the training had real-world benefits for APS deployments.

"The value of this training today is so that when you face this in a deployed environment you're not shocked by the loudness and all of the confusion that exists with an ERO because you can't really hear communication-wise talking," said Girardeau.

"So [the teams] doing this today in a training environment prepares them for a deployed environment where it's real-world and you need to get this done quickly but safely, and they know what to do and what to expect."

Girardeau, who has had to conduct these types of operations in both Kuwait and Oman previously, said the reason they practice these scenarios is because the C-130s and C-17s need to have a quick turnaround to avoid sitting on the ground for several hours.

"They are down for 30 minutes or so, so we can go ahead and download cargo and it's not wasting time and [the air crew] can go do the mission that is really required," he said.