403rd Wing takes part in large training exercise

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Some of you may have noticed several military planes flying overhead Saturday. All of Keesler Air Force Base's C-130-J and W-C-130-J aircraft were up in the air simultaneously as part of the 403rd Wing's training exercise called Operation Surge Capacity.

Saturday's combat readiness exercise was one of the largest the 403rd Wing has conducted in years.

Hundreds of airmen in the 403rd Wing took part in this massive training exercise, created to test multiple capabilities in the wing and help ensure readiness in future missions.

"We're exercising a system out here with Operation Surge Capacity. We're testing our capability to launch the aircraft that  we have providing the strategic depth and combat capability that we have in the reserve forces," said Vice Commander of 403rd Wing Michael Manion.

Before training officially begins, airmen are given procedures during a mission briefing. An exercise of this magnitude took a significant amount of planning from everyone in the 403rd Wing.

"They do a really good job at playing the what if game, planning for all aspects to include weather. They are constantly readjusting their plans depending on what issues they have to come and tackle," said Master Sgt. 345th Airlift Squadron Jason Bradley.

The more than three hour training exercise included dropping 15 pound sandbags to simulate a tactical air drop, where supplies could be dropped quickly and on target. Airmen also had to ensure the planes had proper maintenance before all the aircraft quickly launched and flew in formation.

"The maintainers worked night and day to get the aircraft operational and the fact that all 16 aircraft are able to take off 100 percent mission," Bradley said.

The men and women of the 403rd Wing wrapped up the exercise around 1:30 in the afternoon, with the preparation needed for what officials call cost effective, experienced force.

"This is a significant accomplishment all around from our security forces and all other aspects that they do and also want to thank the local community," said Manion.

The training was also suppose to include dropping Army special forces personnel, but that had to be canceled due to weather concerns early Saturday morning.

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