Volk CDDAR exercise provides vital training opportunities

VOLK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Wis. -- Certification requirements are a vital part of the Air National Guard's training programs. Finding a location to meet those requirements can be somewhat of a challenge for Guard leadership.

That is where the Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin, comes into play. It is the location of the Combat Readiness Training Center, a training center equipped to handle a variety of training needs.

"If I dug a hole in the ground and put an engine in it, my commander would ask me what I was doing," said Master Sgt. Peter Garr, alternative team chief for the Crash, Damage, Disabled Aircraft Recovery team.

The CRTC provides Airmen, such as Garr and the rest of the CDDAR team, a space to do just that - dig a hole, place an engine in it, and not have any questions asked.

During an October exercise, CDDAR leadership teams from across the country had a chance to dig into numerous areas of their field, testing their Airmen to extremes. The CDDAR teams, made up of Airmen from various career fields, including the propulsion shop and maintenance personnel, were given an opportunity to think about and execute the retrieval of "real-world" aircraft, after their team chiefs set up different aircraft recovery scenarios to test their knowledge.

"Here, as a team chief, I can present situations to the team that aren't set like a school house would do," said Master Sgt. Mark Emmendorfer, 191st Equipment Maintenance Flight element superintendent. "It changes the dynamic."

The CDDAR teams were tested with simulated aircraft crash exercises, and as their leadership stood back, were forced to make decisions on what to do.

Should they get orders to deploy someday, these exercises leave them prepared to analyze numerous situations they could encounter.

Following their initial training courses, CDDAR teams across the country seldom have the opportunity to expand their knowledge at their home bases.

"People get stagnant," Emmendorfer said. "There's no real training. Here you can expose those real-world scenarios - even though it's a training aircraft, we're actually lifting that aircraft."

Following some budget cuts, getting training requirements met was deemed a challenge - until the CDDAR teams discovered the Volk Field CRTC.

Tech. Sgt. Jordan Jensen, Volk Field CRTC Aircraft Maintenance CDDAR subject matter expert, pointed out lodging benefits alone make Volk Field a cost-effective choice for training teams.

"Now that we have the certified equipment, there is no limit on what we can do here - as long as we keep safety first," Jensen said.