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Most diverse Alaska Air Guard group trains collectively

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Staff Sgt. Josef Lenz (left) and Staff Sgt. Steven Ellis (right), members of the 176th Logistics Readiness Squadron - Air Terminal Operations, recover a deployed cargo parachute after an airdrop at Malamute Drop Zone here, Aug. 16, 2015. Members of the 176th Mission Support Group from approximately 20 different job specialties trained in their wartime mission skills during the four-day Polar Guard 15-1 exercise. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. John Callahan/ Released.)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Staff Sgt. Josef Lenz (left) and Staff Sgt. Steven Ellis (right), members of the 176th Logistics Readiness Squadron - Air Terminal Operations, recover a deployed cargo parachute after an airdrop at Malamute Drop Zone here, Aug. 16, 2015. Members of the 176th Mission Support Group from approximately 20 different job specialties trained in their wartime mission skills during the four-day Polar Guard 15-1 exercise. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. John Callahan/ Released.)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Members of the U.S. Air Force Reserves' 477th Sustainment Services Flight and Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th Force Support Flight – Services operated a field kitchen for fellow Airmen during exercise Polar Guard 15-1 here Aug. 16, 2015. The Airmen prepared several meals for the participants of the exercise over the course of the four-day training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Edward Eagerton/released)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Members of the U.S. Air Force Reserves' 477th Sustainment Services Flight and Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th Force Support Flight – Services operated a field kitchen for fellow Airmen during exercise Polar Guard 15-1 here Aug. 16, 2015. The Airmen prepared several meals for the participants of the exercise over the course of the four-day training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Edward Eagerton/released)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Members of the Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th Security Forces Squadron conducted force-on-force training during exercise Polar Guard 15-1 on here Aug. 16, 2015. Training with the security forces personnel were members of the 176th Wing Student Flight and 176th Civil Engineer Squadron. The training was designed to teach the participants proper tactics and techniques on how to patrol and react to contact in a combat environment. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Edward Eagerton/released)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Members of the Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th Security Forces Squadron conducted force-on-force training during exercise Polar Guard 15-1 here Aug. 16, 2015. Training with the security forces personnel were members of the 176th Wing Student Flight and 176th Civil Engineer Squadron. The training was designed to teach the participants proper tactics and techniques on how to patrol and react to contact in a combat environment. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Edward Eagerton/released)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Members of the 176th Civil Engineer Squadron practice operating a skid steer here Aug. 16, 2015, during the Polar Guard 15-1 exercise. Skills like this are a part of both their wartime mission and the state mission of urban search and rescue. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt N. Alicia Halla/ Released)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Members of the 176th Civil Engineer Squadron practice operating a skid steer here Aug. 16, 2015, during the Polar Guard 15-1 exercise. Skills like this are a part of both their wartime mission and the state mission of urban search and rescue. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt N. Alicia Halla/ Released)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Senior Amn. Justin Becker, a radio technician with the 176th Communications Flight, connects a hand mic to radio transmission equipment here Aug. 16, 2015, during the Polar Guard 15-1 exercise. Members of the 176th Mission Support Group from approximately 20 different job specialties train in their wartime mission skills during the four-day training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt N. Alicia Halla/ Released)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Senior Amn. Justin Becker, a radio technician with the 176th Communications Flight, connects a hand mic to radio transmission equipment here Aug. 16, 2015, during the Polar Guard 15-1 exercise. Members of the 176th Mission Support Group from approximately 20 different job specialties train in their wartime mission skills during the four-day training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt N. Alicia Halla/ Released)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Members of the Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th Fire Emergency Services practiced fire suppression techniques alongside counterparts from Palmer and Chugiak fire departments here Aug. 16, 2015. Many of the Air Guardsmen work as either fulltime or volunteer employees of fire departments in Alaska, and training with their counterparts in a combined environment helped further develop their knowledge base. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Edward Eagerton/released)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Members of the Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th Fire Emergency Services practiced fire suppression techniques alongside counterparts from Palmer and Chugiak fire departments here Aug. 16, 2015. Many of the Air Guardsmen work as either fulltime or volunteer employees of fire departments in Alaska, and training with their counterparts in a combined environment helped further develop their knowledge base. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Edward Eagerton/released)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Members of the 176th Mission Support Group brought together approximately 20 different occupations for a joint training exercise here Aug. 15 to 18.

Polar Guard 15-1, known locally as "Mad Bull," is an annual affair held mainly at the base joint-regional training site, Camp Mad Bull, where Air Guardsmen participated in a range of events including radio communication, land navigation, field kitchen duties and heavy equipment operation.

At additional locations around base, members participated in aircraft rescue and fire-fighting, convoy simulation, and airdrop and cargo retrieval events. This training is necessary to hone wartime skill sets and be ready for real-world emergencies.

"Mad Bull is a good opportunity to bring the group together for morale-building and for skills training," said Col. Patty Wilbanks, the 176th MSG commander. "They don't get the opportunity to do this unless we get them [into the field]."

A traditional guardsman will train for one weekend each month, as well as two weeks a year for annual training. Due to this time constraint, it is essential to make the most of training opportunities.

Though all the training dealt with deployable skill sets, it was not for that alone. The 176th Civil Engineer Squadron was recently assigned a state mission of urban search and rescue. This means knowing how to use a skid steer to move debris, as well as personnel rescue by the fire fighters.

This year, the 176th MSG shared joint training with the 477th Sustainment Services Flight -- part of the Air Force Reserve unit here -- and community emergency personnel from the Chugiak Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company, Palmer Fire and Rescue and the Alaska State Fire Marshal's office.
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