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Florida is battleground for Airmen honing combat skills

Guardsmen, active duty join forces for Mission Readiness Exercise

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For two weeks, Florida was the battleground for New York and Georgia Airmen preparing for whatever mission they are called to next -- to be ready to go to combat together.

New York Air Guardsmen, assigned to the 105th Base Defense Squadron arrived at Avon Park Air Force Range in Florida March 3. There, they met up with their active duty counterparts assigned to the 820th Base Defense Group at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, for a Mission Readiness Exercise, or MRX. 

From reconnaissance training to encountering IEDs, this exercise is crucial. Guard members and active duty Airmen train together before they're ever called on to deploy together.

"We don't really want Airmen going into theater without this kind of training -- that makes it harder to adjust," said Senior Master Sgt. Shawn Knowlton, the 105th BDS liaison to the 820th BDS.

MRX allows these Airmen to hone their combat skills and build good relationships between both units, making integrating for a deployment easier and more effective.

"Coming to an MRX with the 822nd is not all about getting your HUA on, it's about training, building inter-unit trust and that interdependency," explained  First Lieutenant Antoine Caldwell. "Though most of these Airmen have experienced an exercise on this scale, this is their rite of passage. That way when the time comes for them to deploy, that member from the 822, 823, and 824 can honestly say, 'Yes, I know this Airman, he or she, is squared away,' and they have no doubt in their ability when it comes to outside the wire missions."

This MRX was unique because the 105th BDS brought their own equipment with them to Avon Park. Aboard the 105th Airlift Wing's C-17 Globemaster III were two Humvees, two Light Medium Tactical Vehicles and their own vehicle mechanic to participate in the training.

"Taking part in this training exercise is huge. The leadership actually listens to its work force.  I have only been with the 105th BDS for about 4 months and I already consider this my family," said SSgt Jadotte.

The exercise wrapped up Monday, allowing the 105th BDS to fly home to New York that night, ahead of the winter storm.