Valdosta Daily Times

January 28, 2014

820th Base Defense Group conducts training mission

Stuart Taylor
The Valdosta Daily Times

MOODY AFB — =When you’re an airman, there are two modes: In the field and training to be in the field.

Last Friday, the men and women of the 820th Base Defense Group began their latest training, a week-long Safeside Guardian exercise involving parachuting into a fictional country — the People’s Republic of Bemiss — setting up a forward operating base and operating within the country as they respond to ambushes and simulated threats.

The exercise is designed to validate the unit’s ability to conduct offensive and defensive group combat actions.

Early Monday morning, the 822nd started the latest part of the exercise, going to the village of Bemiss to meet with the local mayor.

After parking their vehicles at the entrance of the village and proceeding on foot, Cmdr. Chris Hagemeyer negotiated with the mayor at the village’s City Hall, reaching an agreement to exchange knowledge between the base and the village, with Hagemeyer agreeing to inform the mayor when the unit would be operating in the area and the mayor agreeing to keep his men away from the forward operating base.

While exiting the village’s City Hall, shots rang out, sniper fire coming from the building catty-corner to City Hall.

The 822nd went into action, taking cover, exchanging fire and dropping smoke grenades. Under the smoke’s cover, several members worked their way to the adjacent building, making their way upstairs where they neutralized the shooter.

After dropping more smoke, the 822nd made a quick exit, covering each other on their way back to the village’s entrance and their vehicles.

From there, they headed back to their base, fending off a small, two-man attack later in the morning.

The 822nd will remain stationed there until today, when they will transfer the base and the mission to the 824th.

Validation exercises like this one are held as a regular part of training at Moody Air Force Base, serving as a way to cap-off a unit’s training.

“It ensures that everyone’s ready to go,” said Tech Sgt. J.D. Walden, who served as an evaluator for the exercise. “With the current threat down range, we want to make sure everyone is as trained as possible.”

Each exercise is based on two things: real-world situations airmen have experienced in the past, and intel about what tactics may be used in the future, learning from past mistakes and future possibilities.

“This training is invaluable. It’s muscle memory. Once you go through this training time and time again ... when you are down range and this does happen, out of instinct they move to where they need to move to.”