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Exercise tests fast-response unit's capabilities

by Staff Sgt. Matthew Bates
Air Force Print News

6/5/2007 - MERCED, Calif. (AFPN) -- Members of the 615th Contingency Response Wing at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., are here conducting a weeklong exercise that will test the unit's ability to set up operations at a seized air field.

Called Operation Hydra, the training is taking place at the Castle Airport and Aviation Development Center, the site of what once was Castle AFB. Three types of planes and more than 250 personnel are taking part in the exercise, which is the largest military training operation to be held at Castle since the base closed in 1995.

"If you don't practice your skills, you lose them," said Maj. Andrew Sellberg, the 573rd Global Support Squadron training officer.

The exercise, which lasts until June 8, is testing various aspects of the unit's ability to operate out of a seized air field, including conducting air field assessment, setting up command and control elements and launching and receiving aircraft.

"This is outstanding training for our Airmen," said Col. Mack Yotter, the 572nd GSS and exercise commander. "It allows us to get out in the field and work on things like communication and other procedures that will get us ready to perform this type of operation in a real-world scenario."

Operation Hydra encompasses several sites spread throughout Northern California, including Castle, Fort Hunter Liggit in Monterey County, and the Paso Robles Municipal Airport.

"Local support for this exercise has been terrific," Colonel Yotter said.

Helping support the exercise is Gemini Flight Support, which is providing gasoline, transportation and electricity for the Air Force.

"We'll be doing some very long hours," said Jim Price, the Gemini Flight Support vice president, "but at the end of the week, it will be one of things we'll look back (on) and be proud of."

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