Story by SSgt Zachary Cacicia on 05/10/2019AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy The 512th Contingency Response Element, an Air Force Reserve unit assigned to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, arrived here to participate in Immediate Response 2019, a multinational exercise, co-led by the Croatian Armed Forces, Slovenian Armed Forces and U.S. Army Europe.
The logistics-focused exercise is designed to test and improve the ability to move forces and equipment rapidly from one location to another. The exercise will improve readiness and interoperability among participating allied and partner nations. Highlights of IR19 include airborne jumps, air assaults, a medical exercise, a live fire exercise and the establishment and integration of a multinational battalion with forces from several nations.
"Our purpose is to provide command and control capabilities to support the aircraft and aircrews coming through," said Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Ragonese, 512th Contingency Response Squadron superintendent. "We are Air Mobility Command's eyes and ears on the ground in the area of responsibility where they have assets."
For this exercise, Ragonese is also acting as the 512th CRE team lead, in charge of the unit.
The 512th CRE is comprised of Reserve Citizen Airmen and equipment from the 512th CRS, the 46th Aerial Port Squadron, the 512th Logistics Readiness Squadron and the 71st APS, a 512th Airlift Wing geographically-separated unit based at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. Additionally, contingency response Airmen from the 439th AW from Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts, and the 315th AW from JB Charleston, South Carolina, are attached to the 512th CRE.
"These are the best and brightest Airmen that our collective squadrons have to offer," said Ragonese. "All of them are fully qualified. They are the best at what they do. It's exactly what we need to be flexible to operate with aircraft and aircrews from active duty, the Air National Guard, other reserve wings and to integrate with the Army."
There are approximately 3,000 U.S. Army Europe personnel participating in the exercise from various Army units and more than 6,000 from 15 allied and partner nations.
In addition to the command and control operations, the 512th CRE conducts flight following, mission tracking, situational and operation reports, and aerial port operations. In other words, the 512th CRE is processing cargo aircraft in and out of Aviano AB during the exercise.
"I'm here to see the operations, to see what's going on and to see how it's all working," said Chief Master Sgt. Clinton Foster, 46th APS operations superintendent. "So far, so good, the CRS is fully integrating all the other units here, working together and ironing out any bugs."
Immediate Response 19 continues to increase participating nations' capacity to conduct full spectrum of military operations. Exercising joint forcible entries (JFE) enhances forces' abilities to seize key terrain quickly in order to build combat power. The combined training opportunities that the exercise provides, greatly improves interoperability among participating allies and regional partners.