Better safe than sorry.
A cliche, yes. But when in the military and facing potential deployment into areas hostile to the interests of the United States, that simple saying is a way of life, particularly when faced with something as devastating as a chemical attack.
For four days last week and ending on Sunday, more than 1,000 personnel assigned to the 122nd Fighter Wing participated in a Unit Effectiveness Inspection, designed to assess combat readiness and their ability to execute numerous missions and tasks.
Over those four days, personnel were graded on scenarios such as security breaches and a simulated chemical attack. On Sunday, personnel dressed in protective gear were performing various tasks all over the base, reporting back to a command center that closely monitored their activities.
While the goal of any inspection is to perform well, Lt. Col. Brian Frazier, who spearheaded the unit inspection, said that sometimes, it is beneficial to a unit to be placed into situations that it doesn't normally see in order for weaknesses to be identified and addressed.
"We are able to learn a lot from the mistakes," Frazier said. "It's going as we expected."
Considering that the 122nd Fighter Wing is a part of the Indiana Air National Guard, not all of the personnel are full-time military operators. That makes training vitally important, said 2nd Lt. Christopher Myers.
"The biggest thing that people forget is that when people get done here, they go back to their civilian lives which have their own standards and responsibilities," Myers said. "You want to simulate as much as possible, put on the equipment and actually wear it and use it, so you can function when the need arises."