Most diverse Alaska Air Guard group trains collectively

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. N. Alicia Halla
  • 176th Wing Public Affairs
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.