177th Conducts a Combined Combat Skills Challenge

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Andrew J. Merlock
  • 177th Fighter Wing

Airmen of the 177th Fighter Wing participated in the inaugural Combined Combat Skills Challenge on August 17 and 18, 2019, here at the Atlantic City Air National Guard Base in Egg Harbor Township, N.J.

The challenge encompassed the generation of combat sorties, ranging from the maintainers’ preparation and loading of F-16 aircraft, to the pilots’ execution of the mission.

“As leaders, we try to maximize our Airmen’s time to increase our effectiveness,” explained Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth Rogers, 177 FW weapons manager.  “This challenge allows the youngest Airman to understand what goes into the entire aircraft generation process, which ultimately increases our effectiveness with the mission execution.”

In addition to being graded on actual task performance, all participants were required to take a written examination that tested their knowledge of their respective career field.  The questions for the test were taken from the various technical orders and guidance used by Airmen on a daily basis.

“The challenge put a lot of stress on all of us,” said Staff Sgt. Danylo Shevchenko, a crew chief assigned to the 177th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.  “We all worked hard, and it fostered a great sense of comradery and morale.”

The challenge culminated with 119th Fighter Squadron pilots and 227th Air Support Operations Squadron Joint Terminal Attack Controllers from the 177th Operations Group executing strafes and training bomb drops at the Warren Grove Range, a detachment of the 177th Fighter Wing.  All participants were invited to observe the pilot briefings and execution of the mission.

“A lot of times when Airmen are doing their job they don’t realize what the end result is, or what influence they are having when they are working day to day,” explained Col. Derek “Tazz” Routt, 177th Operations Group commander.  “Essentially, what they are seeing is their efforts, from beginning to end, culminate in the lethality of our weapon system and our mission in action.  As a leader, sometimes you have to stop and allow them to see their efforts, so they can reflect and realize what an impact they’re really having.”