The U.S. Navy and Air Force personnel completed two weeks of training at Naval Station Norfolk’s Air Terminal, July 25.
Patriot Partner 2014 (PP 14) is a training opportunity that demonstrates the joint capability of Air Force Reserve aerial ports along with Navy air terminal units to test and satisfy their wartime tasking requirements to the fullest extent possible in a peacetime environment.
During the two weeks of PP 14, Reserve Sailors and Airmen took control of the Naval Station Norfolk aerial port and under the supervision of the civilians that normally run day-to-day operations, became responsible for all of the passenger services, ramp services, cargo services, hazardous cargo services, data services and terminating cargo that go through the aerial port.
“Reserve forces are called upon more and more every year to support missions around the world,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Neef, PP14 officer in charge. “These two weeks were important because we have to keep warfighter skills sharp, proficiency sharp, and train newer Airmen and Sailors to meet the mission for both services.”
PP 14 puts Sailors and Airmen into a scenario where they are forced to integrate into or take over an aerial port, a situation that could happen in a wartime environment.
“Basically, we make sure the service members across the globe get what they need,” said Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Wanda Nunez, assigned to Navy Cargo Handling Battalion 10, air cargo. “It may be vaccines, blood, food, ammunition or just mail, but everything that comes through this air terminal is essential.”
The joint partnership is a demonstration of how a diverse team with various experiences can come together to accomplish a critical mission.
“More and more, joint operations are becoming the way of our service,” said Neef. “The integration is essential because to be successful we have to act together as one force, and it tends to breed camaraderie and more of an understanding of the importance of working together.”
For many of the participants in this year’s training, it is their first time working with the other service.
“I have worked with other branches and other nation’s militaries before but this is my first experience working with the Air Force,” said Nunez. “All of their personnel out here are hard chargers and we all get along great. At the end of the day, we are all military and it has been a great experience.”
For Neef, PP 14 is his first experience working with Navy and has served as an opportunity to broaden his understanding of what the Navy is capable of.
“This was my first time working with Navy and I was very impressed,” he said. “When you think of the Navy and you think of ships and submarines and I really did not know much about their career field that deals with aerial port operations and it has been great to see and understand how they complete the mission.”
Following the two weeks of long days and hands-on training, the Sailors and Airmen developed an appreciation for the other branch and the knowledge and capabilities they bring to the fight.
“Everyone participating in Patriot Partnership received the training they need to be successful when the time comes,” said Neef. “Each one of the services has a renewed respect for one another and understand that when the time comes we can mesh together to get the job done.”
Press Release, July 31, 2014; Image: US Navy