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Wolf Pack charges through week-long PENORE

Airman 1st Class Bernard Byer (left) radios in his chemical reconnaisance team's report as Senior Airman Melvin Lucas changes a zone transition point sign during the first peninsula-wide combat employment readiness exercise, or PENCERE of the year. 'ZTP' signs inform other Airmen what sectors they are enter and whether that sector is contaminated with biological or chemical agents. Both Airmen are assigned to the 8th Communications Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/SrA Stephen Collier)

Airman 1st Class Bernard Byer (left) radios in his chemical reconnaisance team's report as Senior Airman Melvin Lucas changes a zone transition point sign during the first peninsula-wide combat employment readiness exercise, or PENCERE of the year. 'ZTP' signs inform other Airmen what sectors they are enter and whether that sector is contaminated with biological or chemical agents. Both Airmen are assigned to the 8th Communications Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/SrA Stephen Collier)

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The Wolf Pack excelled through yet another week-long exercise, testing Airmen here on their ability to survive and operate as well as carry out their wartime mission.

Known as a peninsula operational readiness exercise, or PENORE, the 8th Fighter Wing teamed up with its neighbor to the north, Osan AB, to refine Seventh Air Force's mission of being able "to fight tonight."

"We had the Pacific Air Force inspector general here to take a look at us and we got some valuable feedback on those areas we are doing well in and those areas we need to work on," Col. Jeff "Wolf" Lofgren, 8th FW commander said. "That's a positive ... we need to focus on those weak point areas and clean those up. Most deal with ATSO play and everyone needs to understand how to wear their gear and know self aid buddy care. Everyone, down to the lowest-ranking Airman, needs to know how to apply their general knowledge."

Last week's exercise differed for Wolf Pack members in several ways. For the first time since 2005, F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighters from Holloman AFB, N.M., were part of the Pack, helping to exercise the third tier of the Wing's mission of Taking the Fight North in the event North Korea committed itself to hostilities against the south. After being at Kunsan for two weeks, the 9th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, according to squadron commander Lt. Col. Kenneth Tatum, was extremely impressed with how his squadron integrated into the Wolf Pack and performed throughout the PENORE.

"Our squadron's goals [during the exercise] were to get the basics right, maintain a lean-forward warrior attitude and to be humble and learn from the resident experts," Col. Tatum said. "Our biggest strength, despite having just arrived, was every member of the 9th EFS looked at the challenge of an unfamiliar exercise as an opportunity to excel. While I think we did excel ... our biggest challenge and our focus for this month will be to tackle the details of executing the mission that are different from our home station."

Little known to base personnel, members of the PACAF/IG team were on hand for the exercise, getting a first-hand look at how the Wolf Pack accomplishes its wartime mission.

Col. Richard Gibbs, head of the IG team, said the reason for the 'sneak-peak' at how the Wolf Pack conducts exercises is to better understand how to evaluate the base in April.
"Our visit is beneficial to both the Wolf Pack and to the PACAF/IG inspectors," Col. Gibbs said. "We get to observe the Wolf Pack in action during a PENORE to get a better understanding of Kunsan's uniqueness as it pertains to executing its combat mission, from its physical layout and flying environment to host-nation support. This will help us to put on a better, world-class PENORI in April in order to validate the 8th FW's combat readiness."

The up close look wasn't evaluated, according to Col. Gibbs, but rather helped to establish a starting point for the IG team to inspect from in April. In reality, January's exercise may have provided a glimpse into the future of what Wolf Pack members may face during the bi-annual inspection. Even though the inspectors' visit carries its own significance, Col. Lofgren reminded Wolf Pack members each and everything they train for at Kunsan keeps the base ready to Take the Fight North.

One area of concern for the Wolf this past exercise was zone transition points, or ZTPs. These transition areas, which provide entrance points to different locations throughout the base, allow for members to survive and operate in areas where no contamination exists. But if a member must pass through a ZTP, it indicates the proper chemical level to transition safely in proper mission oriented protective posture, or 'MOPP' level.

"We will stay focused on ZTPs," he said. "What we learned is the communication flow between our UCCs and the SRC needs to be fixed. We will work on that during February's exercise."

Next month's exercise is scheduled for Feb. 20 and runs through the 23. The four-day exercise begins after observing President's Day Feb. 19.