ORI 'Excellent' leads to operational Outstanding

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Aaron Cram
  • 353rd Special Operations Group
Airmen from the 353rd Special Operations Group proved they are ready to carry out their mission by earning an overall "Excellent" rating during an operation readiness inspection and immediately deploying to support relief operations on mainland Japan and a Joint Chiefs of Staff exercise in Korea.

On Feb. 20, Airmen from the group started an operational readiness inspection that concluded on March 4. In less than 72 hours, six aircraft and about 350 people deployed to Korea to support Joint Chiefs of Staff exercise FOAL EAGLE. Within five days of beginning the exercise, half of the force deployed from Korea to Yokota Air Base to support Operation Tomodachi after a devastating 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami ravaged over 300 miles of eastern coastline on Honshu, Japan March 11.

The inspection took place during an Air Force Special Operations Command Inspector General managed emergency deployment response exercise, or EDRE and a local operational readiness exercise, or LORE, conducted with the host wing here. The EDRE required real-time force packaging and deployment activities in response to a short notice contingency tasking. The scenario involved a catastrophic earthquake in the island nation of Indonesia. The 18th WG LORE simulated operating from a deployed location and in a contaminated chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear environment.

The purpose of the ORI was to evaluate and measure the ability of the group to perform its wartime mission, contingency or force sustainment missions. The group was rated in four major graded areas. In those four areas, the AFSOC Inspector General graded the Airmen of the group "Excellent" in Positioning the Force, Employing the Force and Sustaining the Force. The group received a "Satisfactory" rating for Ability to Survive and Operate.

Little did the group know that all of those major graded areas would be tested against nearly identical real-world events on the island of Honshu, Japan, a few weeks later. For three weeks, the SOG supported Operation Tomodachi relief operations while simultaneously supporting JCS exercise FOAL EAGLE from two forward-deployed locations.

The group commander commended Airmen of the SOG for their work simultaneously supporting Operations Tomodachi and FOAL EAGLE directly linking their ORI performance to their mission successes for the two operations.

"Your grade for the support you provided during FOAL EAGLE and what you are doing to help the people of Japan will be in the history books and that grade far exceeds any grade earned on an ORI," said Col. Robert Toth, the 353rd SOG commander. "Although the ORI is separate from the exercise and relief efforts, I truly believe your focus and drive during the inspection carried over and made these operations an outstanding success. Your daily performance throughout all three events never ceased to amaze me. You are truly a gem to AFSOC and you are all superior performers to me."

In addition to the major graded areas during the inspection, the 353rd SOG Safety Office received an "outstanding" rating and 19 individuals were identified as Superior Performers by the AFSOC IG Team. The individuals are:

353rd Special Operations Group Staff
Capt. Christopher Stewart
Master Sgt. Leslie Dye

1st Special Operations Squadron
Capt. Jeremy Bergin

17th Special Operations Squadron
Tech. Sgt. David Harwood
Tech. Sgt. John Pulley
Senior Airman Brian Bos

320th Special Tactics Squadron
Master Sgt. Michael Charvat
Senior Airman David Craig

353rd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron
Tech. Sgt. Alfonsocalixlo Destreza
Staff Sgt. Justin Buchholz
Staff Sgt. Ronaldo Perez
Airman 1st Class Matthew Bernstein

353rd Special Operations Support Squadron
Maj. Brian Helton
Tech. Sgt. Alicia Hinton
Tech. Sgt. Mark Snider
Staff Sgt. Tara Gibson
Staff Sgt. Daisy Rochell
Staff Sgt. Daniel Van Stone
Airman 1st Class Anthony Wintermyers

Colonel Toth also decided additional Airmen from the group deserved recognition and highlighted them as SOG Professional Performers for the ORI. The individuals are:

1st Special Operations Squadron
Capt. Justin Norton
Master Sgt. Robert Longhenry

17th Special Operations Squadron
Master Sgt. Anthony Wade

353rd Special Operations Support Squadron
Staff Sgt. Kevin Rogala
Staff Sgt. Clayton Slater