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North Star exercise sports new, improved action

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Approximately 180 Airmen representing almost every squadron on base deployed Aug. 9 to a remote, off base location for a North Star field training exercise.

The exercise came to a close Aug. 11 after three days and two nights spent in the field being evaluated and learning techniques such as basic combat operations, battle field hygiene and weapons familiarization.

"The purpose of North Star is to test the core competencies of Airmen in their respective (Air Force Specialty Code's)," said Maj. Chris De Los Santos, commander of the 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

"What was unique about this North Star exercise was, not only did we go 24-hour ops for three days, but we went away from the traditional chemical warfare/bio-centric test."

In addition to testing core competencies, the Airmen were faced with issues like insurgent attacks, infiltration and other invading forces.

The Airmen in the exercise were hit with mortar attacks, a contaminated water supply, sexual assault and other psychological warfare.

"This North Star was geared toward capabilities which, in a small sense, mirrored the environment in which Airmen are deploying today,"said Capt. Zachary Moore, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron. "The situations Airmen faced in the exercise are some situations Airmen may face on the battlefield."

The deployed Airmen completed a four-hour course before the evaluation started. Participants were given demonstrations on how to move under fire, weapons familiarization and self-aid and buddy care.

A number of the Airmen in the exercise were participating in North Star for the first time.

"This was the first time at North Star for about two-thirds of the deployed Airmen out there," said Sam Treat, 30th Space Wing Inspector General's office.

"What we did different than other North Star exercises was to give the Airmen demonstration training on four different tasks," he said.

"This kind of training is necessary now because Airmen are doing things in a combat zone they previously were not expected to do," Major De Los Santos said. "In a ground war like we're in today, we're carrying weapons a lot more and engaging in combat a lot more so we need to be proficient on basic combat operations."

After the demonstration training, the evaluation began and the Airmen set up camp and began engaging in scenarios.

"Based on the enthusiasm of these troops, I think they did great," the major said. "I am absolutely overjoyed with the outcome of this exercise.

"It's the basic reality that Airmen are being called on to do what they've never been called on to do before but the nation is still depending on us to see them through to victory," he said.