Ramstein Air Base Community
25th, 379th Space Range Squadrons undertake Global Exercise Austere Challenge
Story by Halle Thornton on 06/26/2019
The 25th and 379th Space Range Squadron Airmen from Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, participated in the Space Test and Training Range global command-and-control exercise Austere Challenge, which focused on security in the European theater, or area of responsibility, at Ramstein Air Force Base Germany, March 9 April 4.
While this exercise focused on combatant command level training, it also included smaller field training exercises.
The STTR is operated by personnel from the 25th SRS and their reserve component, the 379th SRS, both of which are assigned to Schriever AFB.
“A year and a half of planning and coordination went into supporting this large force exercise,” said Maj. Shawn Woodall, 25th SRS flight commander of standardization and evaluations and quality assurance. “Almost 34 thousand pounds worth of equipment and 28 personnel were airlifted to five locations across Europe.”
Woodall was one of the range control officers, monitoring the signal environment and making sure the players stayed within their bounds during the exercise.
Additionally, Woodall coordinated with his crew and other squadron members in theater.
“This was a large exercise and took lots of planning,” he said. “I liked how most of our squadron was able to support and play a part. My cousin is stationed out there and I liked that we both were supporting the same event from different angles.”
Jennifer Anderson, 25th SRS government security officer, also participated in the deployment.
“My favorite part about the deployment was to see how well everyone worked together despite language barriers,” she said. “We had to coordinate real-world training with people in five different locations.”
Woodall said the most challenging part about the exercise was coordinating with some of the joint customers at the different locations.
This was the largest deployment for the two squadrons and provided a space electronic warfare battlefield for blue and red force players to execute training objectives.
“While deployed, the teams coordinated with white cell planning personnel and joint exercise participants from various locations,” Woodall said. “This coordination was essential to safe and secure operations during the entirety of the exercise.”
Anderson said Airmen who participated benefitted from the demand of being outside of their home station environment in an overseas location where language, resources and even a simple thing like voltage were obstacles to overcome.
“Airmen learned though deployments can be challenging, the value in what they have learned when, things did not go exactly as planned,’ can be used in future deployments and throughout their careers,” she said. “These guys are amazing and figure a way ahead around anything thrown at them.”
At the completion of Austere Challenge, exercise players debriefed Space Range representatives and white cell coordinators. The STTR members and their equipment returned home for reconstitution for the next mission.