ATSO Reloaded: Resurrecting the term

  • Published
  • By Robert Kaschak
  • 452nd MSG/CES

Suppose I told you the 452nd AMW will be conducting an ATSO exercise in the fall? Wait, what, you say? Now you are scrolling through your favorites to find military acronyms to figure out what ATSO stands for as the term seems fuzzy to you. Relax, this article will provide all you need to know about the term and the requirements. It is time to resurrect the term ATSO, all it implies and revisit the way we prepare to go to war. Our last endeavor at this type of training was in 2013 as we conducted an Operational Readiness Exercise (ORE) and Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI) to evaluate our ability to function in a hostile environment.


The term ATSO connotes the "Ability to Survive and Operate".  While it has been a few years, this concept should be familiar to military personnel although it now sometimes takes different forms. For example, our younger airman, are going through "warrior week" as part of their indoctrination process. When conducting Chemical, Biological, Nuclear, Radiological, and/or Explosive (CBNRE) skills training we conduct hands on training for those basic war time concepts that all airman, regardless of rank, should know and be able to execute.  ATSO skills are the foundation for all airmen to function effectively in a war time scenario. The term "reloaded" in this article is "borrowed" from the movie series, "the matrix". Just as in the movie, we are re-loading our knowledge and ability to engage in the war time skills necessary while performing our primary jobs. I cannot stress or overstate the importance of these skills, yet, training for them is always an arduous task, and competes with many other training requirements and time necessary to accomplish.


Okay, so back to the opening comment about an ATSO exercise. There really will be a wing wide ATSO event which will take place Oct. 23- 27. So, mark your calendars and start your personal preparation for this experience.  There are no details at this time as planners are just now starting to organize the requirements and objectives. However, it is safe to say that you will be utilizing to some degree those war time tasks you have accomplished in the past. Not all inclusive, but here are some things that you should start thinking about: pallet build-up, equipment and personnel processing, wearing chemical gear and going through different Mission Oriented Protective Posture or MOPP levels, Contamination Control Area (CCA) process, zone transition points, split MOPP, M8 and M9 marking, post attack reconnaissance team sweeps, attack warning signals, drinking with the mask on, vehicle contamination and marking process just name a few of the skills. Also, you should look at your task qualification requirements within your career filed and determine what duties you may be accomplish wearing chemical gear. Remember, there can be administrative tasks like answering the phone, working at a computer as well as physical skills to include vehicle driving, flight line operations, etc.  Over the next few months, to assist in preparation, emergency management will write articles for the beacon addressing some of the duties you may be required to perform during the exercise.



Of course there is a multitude of logistics involved in setting this up. Preparation and knowledge will be instrumental in making this exercise a success. If we all work together, we can learn together and function as one team. There is no substitute for being able to utilize our war time skills to accomplish our mission.  That has always been and now, more than ever, continues to be our most critical most important mission.   The world situation is volatile, dynamic and, at times, demanding. Confidence in the ability to execute our war time skills in tandem with our capability is our best deterrent.  Bring a positive attitude and a willingness to participate and learn. Everyone will have strong areas and weak ones. This type of exposure will assist in alleviating those weaknesses.  We ask all who come to give it your best effort, take the constructive criticism in a positive vein, and understand that, as a wing, we are only as strong as our weakest link. Represent March proudly. We can do this team.