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5th Bomb Wing Inspector General Brings the Thunder

Capt. Camille (Camie) Richan, 69th Bomb Squadron B-52H Stratofortress pilot, talks about her experience in the alert call to action exercise at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, Oct. 7 2021. (U.S. Air Force video by Senior Airman Dillon J. Audit)


Early October of 2021, 5th Bomb Wing Airmen from Minot Air Force Base participated in a multi-day, wing-level exercise to internally validate mission readiness, enhance operational training across the wing, and self-identify areas for improvement.

“Our concept was to combine multiple exercises that improve our combat capabilities while dealing with other simulated threats that test our Command and Control and Emergency Management skills,” said Maj. Connor Klein, 5th Bomb Wing Director of Plans and Programs. “This type of exercise is important because it ensures we can generate combat-ready Airmen and B-52's while guaranteeing the safety and security of our nuclear assets no matter what.

The exercise was a multi-pronged effort designed and implemented by the 5th BW Inspector General Office to gauge the wing’s decision making and mission readiness in support of Department of Defense requirements. The complex exercise scenarios tested the wing’s operational and support capabilities as well as emergency response measures.

"Experts from across the 5th Bomb Wing developed a robust scenario that combined wing-level PRAIRIE RAMPART and PRAIRIE KNIGHT Exercises with a 69th Bomb Squadron nuclear generation ‘part task trainer’ exercise called KNIGHTHAWK THUNDER,” said Klein. “It was a high level of effort that gave our Airmen at all levels the freedom of maneuver to lead and learn in a controlled environment. The 5th Bomb Wing has an incredible amount of talent and drive which made this exercise a huge success because we had those tough conversations about our limitations and how to deal with them to keep us always ready for our worst day and every day short of that.”

The exercise consisted of a variety of scenarios prompting personnel to work through a range of issues to include cybersecurity, adversarial attempts to breach physical security measures, and ensuring combat power met simulated senior leader commands.

“Our next chance to showcase the credibility of our nuclear deterrent will be United States Strategic Command’s annual GLOBAL THUNDER exercise in November,” Klein said.

Klein said that next summer, they’re planning an ambitious scenario-driven PRAIRIE VIGILANCE part-task trainer exercise built from the ground up with various emergency management exercises that will stress their organizations to help pinpoint any vulnerabilities and prevent our adversaries from having an upper hand in the next conflict.

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