726th participates in team building exercise

BRUNEAU STATE PARK, Idaho – A team of Airmen from the 726th Air Control Squadron carry a 200-pound dummy to the top of a sand dune while completing a 1.5-mile course during a training exercise at Bruneau State Park June 3. This team-building exercise helps the 726th ACS to maintain a combat ready status in order to provide air battle management to joint air, land and sea power at a moment’s notice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Debbie Lockhart)

BRUNEAU STATE PARK, Idaho – A team of Airmen from the 726th Air Control Squadron carry a 200-pound dummy to the top of a sand dune while completing a 1.5-mile course during a training exercise at Bruneau State Park June 3. This team-building exercise helps the 726th ACS to maintain a combat ready status in order to provide air battle management to joint air, land and sea power at a moment’s notice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Debbie Lockhart)

MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho -- Personnel from the 726th Air Control Squadron participated in a team-building exercise June 3 at Bruneau Dunes State Park.

The exercise's main purpose was to emphasize unit cohesion through teamwork, while enhancing and strengthening squadron standards.

Personnel were separated into 10 groups, picked at random, and presented with a scenario of transporting a 200-pound dummy 1.3 miles around one of the park's lakes.

At the end of the course there was a competency challenge where members assembled and disassembled an M16A2 while blindfolded. The reward for winning, a day off.

"This exercise was an outstanding opportunity for more than 300 operators, supporters and maintainers to get mixed up and work with Airmen from other sections of the 726th ACS," said Lt. Col. Trent R. Carpenter, 726th ACS commander. "There is an obvious extreme physical challenge but also the critical thinking helps build teamwork and, of course, eventually success."

One of the exercises coordinators agrees, the challenges were difficult but the teams succeeded despite the challenges.

"This was about different work centers and all levels of command, from an airman basic to our squadron commander, coming together in order to build unit cohesion," said Staff Sgt. Michael L. Heinz, 726th ACS material controller and event coordinator. "These personnel now understand how important teamwork is because during deployments the same people we train with now, we will go to war with later."

That teamwork was shown in many ways but specifically when race participants who had completed the challenge took it upon themselves to go back and cheer on the teams that were still competing.

"I am thrilled by the way the teams performed during this very difficult challenge, considering participants were picked randomly and many had never worked with each other before," stated Staff Sgt. Kelsey S. Lovejoy, 726th ACS material control supervisor and event coordinator. "Today was perfect, no one was injured, the weather is fantastic, and logistically everything went great."

According to many personnel from the 726th ACS, issues such as bad weather, dehydration, sun exposure were all addressed by the Sergeants Heinz and Lovejoy, before the exercise began and because of such preparedness, the day was a success.

Not even the mosquitos could keep these Airmen from clapping, cheering and high fiving during the exercise. One group even recited the Airmen's Creed upon completion of the race.

"The best part of today's events was coming to Bruneau and participating as a team in this extremely challenging exercise," said Airman 1st Class Robert J. Stewart, 726th ACS cyber-transport systems maintainer. "It was amazing how naturally people who barely know each other will come together and accomplish a goal. Getting out of the office to get sweaty and dirty at the dunes is also a plus to the exercise today."

Congratulations to the winning team led by Airman Paulina Bustillo, 726th surveillance technician, with a time of 34 minutes and 25 seconds.