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Operation Limelight

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Christina Russo
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

More than 50 Reserve Citizen Airmen assigned to the 910th Airlift Wing conducted annual aircrew water survival training from April 18-21, 2023, at Naval Air Station Key West, Florida. Members from the 757th Airlift Squadron and the 910th Operations Support Squadron worked closely with each other and the Navy to coordinate the off-station training.

“Operation Limelight was executed in conjunction with annual aircrew water survival training,” said Col. Scott Lawson, 910th Operations Group commander. “The purpose was to expose reserve members to new and unexpected urban situations they may find themselves in when executing airlift missions overseas.”

In preparation for Operation Limelight, Lawson tasked his Airmen with organizing training exercises that would present aircrew with real-world situations while giving them the necessary tools to survive.

“Putting the Airmen in the ocean and an urban environment where conditions can change rapidly gives them the opportunity to think critically, work as a team and solve problems under stressful conditions,” said Lawson.

As foreign adversaries continue to test the U.S. military’s capabilities, Reserve Citizen Airmen are tasked now more than ever to be prepared to step up when called upon, which is why the 910th AW’s vision of ‘Combat Ready ALWAYS’ has leadership pursuing training opportunities for their Airmen in the most realistic settings.

“Conflicts around the world may arise at any time; this was the perfect opportunity to place our members in an urban environment, rapidly change the conditions on them and see how they perform,” said Lawson. “Coming down to Key West allowed aircrew to refresh their skills in a real-world environment where they have to work with the conditions at hand whether it be wind, heat or swells in the ocean.”

For Lt. Col. Lisa Ballas, 910th Operations Support Squadron commander, this was her first off-station training with the 910th OG and an opportunity to test her leadership abilities.

“Taking any group off-station requires a lot of planning, coordination and clear, concise communication,” said Ballas. “Planning is crucial and you have to trust in your people and their hard work. In the end, the 910th OSS knocked it out of the park. I couldn’t be prouder of my OSS team, especially the aircrew flight equipment, intel and training sections.”

Whether it be a training exercise or a real-world contingency, extensive coordination and intel gathering is crucial to the overall success of the mission. As peer and near-peer global competitors vie for the upper hand in potential future conflicts, the 910th is following the Air Force’s lead in changing how Airmen train and remain ready for the fight.