Jan. 28, 2010

203d RED HORSE in Florida for Operational Readiness Exercise with sister unit

By Lt. Col. Deb Magaldi
Virginia Air Guard Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., Nearly 70 Airmen with the 203d RED HORSE Squadron deployed to Camp Blanding, Fla., Jan. 27, ready to take part in an Operational Readiness Exercise with their sister unit, the 202nd RED HORSE Squadron.


Airmen from the Virginia Beach-based 203d RED HORSE Squadron arrrive at Oceana Naval Air Station in Norfolk Jan. 27 en route to Camp Blanding, Fla., where they will take part in an Operational Readiness Exercise. (Photo courtesy of Virginia Air National Guard)

Unit members met before dawn at the 203d Headquarters, located on the State Military Reservation, before being bused to Naval Air Station Oceana for their flight to Florida. The deployed contingent is scheduled to return home on Jan. 31.

This is the first of two OREs that the units will conduct together in advance of their Operational Readiness Inspection, scheduled for this spring.

The 203d team, led by the 203d RHS commander, Lt.Col. Pete Garner, will join forces with nearly 100 members of the 202nd at Camp Blanding. Every 203d duty section is represented on the deployment – from vehicle maintenance and engineering to equipment operations and support services.

"The goal for each ORE/ORI is to do better than we did last time. We are always striving to improve," noted Lt. Col. Steven Phillips, 203d Base civil engineer.

The 202nd/203d's last ORI took place early in 2006 and was held at the State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach.

Unit members were eager to be off. Their priorities for the deployment ranged from: "Be prepared" and "get in as much training as possible" to "be safe and stay injury free."

Col. Paul Julian, Virginia Air National Guard State Headquarters, went on the deployment as an observer.

"The units' focus for this deployment is on preparation and practice for the upcoming ORI,” Julian said. “This is a great opportunity for the 202nd/203d to practice together and to refine their processes and war skills."

The last time members from both units worked with each other was from November 2006 through May 2007 when the 202nd/203d performed as the lead unit for hundreds of U.S. military engineers deployed to multiple locations across Southwest Asia in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

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