Pacific Air Commandos use typhoon evac to enhance readiness

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Aaron Cram
  • 353rd Special Operations Group
Air Commandos of 353rd Special Operations Group received unexpected help from Typhoon Chaba during a readiness exercise this week when they were forced to evacuate due to the storm.

On Oct. 23, in conjunction with the 18th Wing here, SOG Airmen started a local operational readiness exercise and quickly transitioned to a real-world mobility event a few days later. The exercise was slated to test Airmen's abilities to deploy to a forward operating base and practice their wartime skills necessary for their ability to survive and operate in any environment.

SOG weather specialists were tracking the storm from the beginning of the exercise and updating group leadership several times a day. By the afternoon of Oct. 27, Typhoon Chaba caused leadership to end the exercise and evacuate people and aircraft to a safe location. In all, almost 100 SOG Airmen and six MC-130s deployed in less than 24 hours to escape the typhoon effects and continue to carry-out the group's mission.

The exercise was established for the Air Commandos to work around-the-clock exercising the full spectrum of tasks the group can be expected to perform. The 353rd SOG is the focal point for all U.S. Air Force special operations activities throughout the U.S. Pacific Command theater, and is prepared to conduct a variety of high-priority, low-visibility missions while providing command and control of all U.S. special operations air forces.

"The men and women assigned to this group have a daunting task here," said Col. Robert Toth, the 353rd SOG commander. "Our mission as Air Commandos requires us to maintain the highest levels of readiness. This exercise was a chance for us to hone our skills to maintain our readiness which includes worldwide mobility commitment. This typhoon added an unexpected real-world exam in the middle of our exercise and gave us a perfect chance to test our readiness capabilities."