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19 AW WAR Center graduates AMC Phoenix Forge students

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Zachary Kee
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 19th Airlift Wing, in conjunction with Air Mobility Command’s inaugural Phoenix Forge training, completed a distinct iteration of the Warrior Airmen Readiness (WAR) Center at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, June 3-7, 2024.

Thirty-seven students attended from 14 bases and three major commands with additional support coming from the Arkansas Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing, whose pilots and Security Forces personnel assisted in the capstone event.

Phoenix Forge is a two-part program that utilized the 5-day WAR Center course to achieve the AMC Commander’s intent for a more lethal and tactical skills program focused on getting Airmen ready for the next fight.

“In AMC, we are about getting after the mission to support the Joint Force,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jamie Newman, AMC command chief. “As a result, our teams have a high potential to be in vulnerable, unpredictable environments where hostilities may be present, and we want our warriors to be the best trained and most ready force available to our combatant commands.”

During Part I, students started at Scott AFB, Illinois, where instructors introduced demanding physical aspects of training with focus on small unit tactics, specialized equipment training, gear management, weapons fundamentals, and flight line familiarization.

For Part II, students were transported via military airlift to the WAR Center at Little Rock AFB to build on skills learned in Part I, to conduct deployment training and refinement of tactical skills needed for base defense; survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE); and tactical combat casualty care (TCCC).

“What we are getting after at the WAR Center is preparing Airmen with basic combat readiness skills and shifting mindsets from only being a career field specialist to an overall multi-capable Airman,” said Master Sgt. Arin Vickers, 19th AW WAR Center superintendent. “The majority of the Air Force has settled into a peace time mindset, and we want to instill a wartime mindset so we can better prepare for the future fight.”

There were 75 nominees for the Phoenix Forge program who were each selected by their wing commanders to go up to AMC for final selection. Newman and AMC staff selected 40 of those Airmen to attend the course with five serving as alternates.

The ranks for participating members ranged from airman first class up to senior master sergeant, which offered great experience for the lowest and highest-ranking Airmen.

“I think it was great to see every level of rank taking charge and the junior Airmen and noncommissioned officers seeing a senior NCO that’s willing to follow and take their leadership and move out,” said Senior Master Sgt. Clane Shirley, Phoenix Forge and 19th AW WAR Center student from the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

Phoenix Forge was born out of Department of the Air Force level theories calling for increased skills and the need for mission-ready Airmen in a high-end conflict. It also enabled Airmen to receive more exposure to activities near the flight line in a distributed operations environment.

“It’s really great getting training and to kind of reinvigorate what could happen in the future and being ready to go,” said Senior Airman Bernardo Valiente, Phoenix Forge and 19th AW WAR Center student from the 91st Air Refueling Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. “It gives me confidence to stand ready for any conflict because of a course like this and gaining experience with the tools we need.”

At the conclusion of the week, 37 students completed a capstone where they earned the distinction of being the first graduates of the Phoenix Forge program.

“I think us being here for Phoenix Forge and having everybody from different locations will help the program grow,” Shirley said. “I think that’s why we’re here; we can bring it back to the rest of AMC and show that we all have the need for this training.”

Vickers highlighted how Phoenix Forge and the 19th AW WAR Center emphasizes preparing Airmen for unique challenges and being ready for anything.

“Phoenix Forge focuses on the same necessities as the WAR Center with an added emphasis on leadership aspects,” Vickers said. “We build upon the students’ current skills and inject stress induced combat scenarios for every rank and career field, so if and when it becomes their reality, the shock factor is reduced, and they have the increased ability to remain on target.”

The 19th AW WAR Center continues to provide a conduit for achieving the goal of producing Airmen who are armed with the skills needed for future conflicts and the addition of Phoenix Forge will amplify what the 19th AW has done since standing up this course.

“Phoenix Forge is that course that builds strong, resourceful, tough warriors who can tackle any challenge as a part of a team and get everyone back home,” Newman said. “When it comes to full combat, we want our people ready and Phoenix Forge, and the partnership with the 19th AW’s WAR Center, is a perfect match to maximize readiness.”