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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – It’s severe weather season in Sooner State and Tinker Air Force Base spent Monday morning preparing for its worst-case scenario. They did so by doing something called an “elephant walk” and “weather flush” exercise on base.
When severe weather season hits, Oklahomans are all too familiar with the sirens meaning it’s time to get to their shelters. For airmen at Tinker Air Force Base along with all Oklahomans, that time of year means the importance of preparedness.
“We practice this regularly to be able to generate, to meet mission commander intent, to go send our forces downrange, do the mission that they have to do,” said Col. Wayne Frost, a 34-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force.
Frost said Monday’s exercise includes an elephant walk with E-3 Sentry AWAC aircraft to line up on the tarmac. It’s all part of a weather flush exercise, which is practice for airmen to evacuate the planes in sequential takeoff’s if severe weather were headed toward the base.
“It’s a good practice. Like any exercise, you learn something along the way,” said Col. Kelley Stevens. “We’re going to learn some things that are going to make us better.”
The planes are crucial, providing situational awareness of friendly and hostile activity, command and control, battle management and early warning of enemy actions during operations.
“While the majority of them are stationed here at Tinker Air Force Base, the combatant commanders all over the world continue asking for this aircraft,” Stevens said.
Both Stevens and Frost said this isn’t the only time they train though. They said it’s year-round to ensure they’re ready for anything.
“We do this quite regularly,” Frost said.
“Airmen make it happen no matter how difficult the challenge,” Stevens said. “They’re amazing, they’re talented, they’re motivated, and they know how important the mission is to the security of our nation.”
Stevens said their group is responsible for 31 aircraft and 1,400 airmen who have to be ready at a moment’s notice. In the exercise on Tuesday morning, they only had two take off while the other planes returned to base.
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