VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Exercise Patriot Hook 2019, an annual joint-service exercise coordinated by the Air Force Reserve Command, took place at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., April 10 through 15, 2019. The five day long exercise demonstrated the execution of civil relief operations that would typically occur following a natural disaster and provided realistic mission training for AFRC members and other service affiliates.
Other members from AFRC also participated in the exercise at March Air Reserve Base, Naval Air Station North Island and Burbank Bob Hope Airport, due to their strategic locations in California.
The exercise was designed to integrate different branches of the military and first responders of federal, state and local agencies. They trained for real-world scenarios, where they would need to mobilize quickly and deploy military aircraft in the event of a regional emergency or natural disaster.
“This is the third exercise that our unit has participated in this year, and the difference of our capabilities, from when we started to now, is substantial,” said U.S. Army Capt. Ricardo Tolentino, 314th Military Intelligence Battalion officer in charge. “The old way of thinking was, waiting until we’re tagged to deploy and at that time no one is prepared. By proactively doing exercises, such as Patriot Hook 2019, when the time comes for my unit to deploy, we will be ready.”
Each unit’s attendance was crucial for the achievement of the exercise. The C-17 Globemaster III and crewmembers assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, provided much needed assets as the members tested their rapid disaster and medical response skills. Wright-Patterson AFB crewmembers, airfield managers, aerial porters and loadmasters aided in the movement of equipment and prepared cargo for a mock deployment. Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass., and members of the 314th Military Intelligence Battalion in San Diego joined the exercise to get hands-on-training as well.
Although the exercise was primarily geared toward members of AFRC, Vandenberg AFB played a vital role. While there are no aircraft assigned to the installation, the base houses a 15,000 foot runway, which allowed enough space and open airfield time for the contingency response exercise.
“Vandenberg is a large base with a lot of facilities, so if something were to go on such as a natural disaster, the Air Force would definitely want to utilize this base,” said Lt. Col. Rodney Furr, 439th Force Support Squadron commander. “In terms of a contingency response location, the significance of Vandenberg can’t be overstated.”