“The sound of freedom,” as it is often called, can sometimes take residents by surprise. Last weekend, Brick police and officials in other neighboring towns sent out mobile alerts advising residents that loud explosive being reported were the result of activities at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
With the exercises now complete, base officials filled us in on what our local armed service members were doing – and it was a notable training operation indeed. Moreover, the unique exercise was one of two important pieces of news to come out of the base over the past week alone.
According to base officials, the exercises undertaken last weekend were part of a mobilization exercise that tested the base’s viability as a Mobilization Force Generation Installation. This important designation ensures Joint Base personnel can rapidly, and at scale, implement a mobilization of forces that can be called upon by a combatant command in another part of the world.
The U.S. Army Reserve’s 655th Regional Support Group led the exercise.
(Photos embedded with the article were taken by Kevin C McDevitt and Pfc. Michael Hayes of the 444th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)
“The MOBEX is an opportunity to exercise the installation’s capability to do large-scale mobilization operations,” explained Col. Vivek Kshetrapal, commander of the 655th RSG. “What the MOBEX lets us do is bring together enterprise partners – Army Support Activity-Fort Dix, First Army, the Logistics Readiness Center – to stress the capabilities of the installation to try to find gaps and then to figure out how we’re going to remediate those gaps.”
The MOBEX not only tests the installation’s mobilization capacity, but also allows the Mobilization Support Force units to ensure they are ready to take on the mission of mobilizing large numbers of soldiers.
“As part of this exercise, we bring together Reserve units from all over the country that equate to the MSF forces,” Kshetrapal said. “We have all sorts of different units including a combat sustainment support battalion, ammo units, medical units that do the Soldier Readiness Processing piece, personnel units, and military police that augment the law enforcement here on post. All of us come together and work together as a team, as an enterprise.”
While a major part of the exercise consists of logistics and administrative planning, it also provided an opportunity for training on various pieces of kit and munitions.
“They may qualify on their weapons, do live-fire exercises; they get certain training based on the type of unit that they are,” said Brig. Gen. Beth Salisbury, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 99th Readiness Division. “We have a mobilization plan for them as they come through this mobilization location to ensure they meet training requirements for whatever location to which they’re going. Once they do that, we validate them here at this location and they get sent to wherever they’re needed.”
The training received at the Joint Base must also comport with the skills, techniques and methods utilized in whichever battlespace may require a deployment.
“Where we are now with our near-peer adversaries, we must think about having to fight in large-scale combat operations,” Kshetrapal said. “We need to be able to mobilize the Army Reserve and National Guard in a timely manner to be able to deploy.”
Most of the loud sounds residents heard likely came as part of aerial gunnery exercises, including the use of rocket fire, rotary cannons and standard .50 caliber arms.
Not to be outdone, the Joint Base’s air complement also celebrated a milestone last week.
The base’s 305th Maintenance Squadron has become the first fully-qualified KC-46 maintenance squadron on the East Coast by completing their jack and swing training
The KC-46 is a militarized variant of the Boeing 767 commercial airliner that can refuel a variety of American, European and allied aircraft, utilizing both the “probe-and-drogue” and aerial boom methods. The KC-46 notably eliminates a station for boom operators near the tail of the airplane, and has replaced it with a Remote Vision System, that feeds ultra high-definition video to airmen, supported by depth compression and a curvature effect, which allows precision guidance of the boom into the receiving aircraft’s hatch.
The Joint Base is one of several across the country which will host the KC-46. So far, eight of 24 airframes have been delivered, with the first having arrived in June 2022.