Travis plans for the unexpected

  • Published
  • By Heide Couch
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Readiness doesn’t happen inside a vacuum—sometimes you have to shake things up. It’s in that spirit that Travis Air Force Base personnel dropped, covered and held on during a base-wide earthquake drill, then evaluated their chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear skills during a multi-day exercise on 21st and 28th of Oct. Travis AFB regularly conducts specific exercises to train Airmen on new skills and maintain proficiency. 

In phase one of the exercise, the base participated in the great California Shake Out, an annual earthquake drill conducted throughout the state. Travis AFB resides in Northern California, an area of the country prone to earthquakes. The Green Valley fault, running between the cities of Fairfield and Napa, is primed for a magnitude 6.7 or greater quake in the imminent future, according to researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and San Francisco State University.  

Master Sgt. Stephen DePugh, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of structures, participated in the exercise as an evaluator, rating the Damage Assessment Response Team. The DART is comprised of multi-craft members from the 60th CES, operating as craftsmen in their Air Force Specialty Code.

"Travis AFB is susceptible to earthquakes, which could damage base assets and impact mission readiness," said DePugh.  “Several of our Airmen have never experienced a natural disaster, so they wouldn't know how to react. As a result of this exercise, they were able to discern how CE operates and what steps our Airmen should take to succeed.”

Department of Defense ID cardholders were also encouraged to participate to the greatest extent possible.

The exercise included simulated reports of damage involving several structures being relayed to base authorities. Simulated power shut-offs of critical facilities also occurred during the exercise, forcing Airmen to think on their feet to maintain operational effectiveness.

“The DART responds to damage throughout the base and determines what needs to be repaired to keep the mission going,” said DePugh.

During the second phase of the exercise, Airmen conducted various CBRN response actions, designed to prepare Team Travis members for a real-world scenario with the flexibility and control of a learning environment.

The CBRN drill included Airmen from several units assigned to the 60th Air Mobility Wing, encompassing all five groups assigned to the installation. 

"This exercise is important to evaluate skills that will be used in a chemically-contaminated environment," said Tech. Sgt. Alfred Esposito, 60th CES noncommissioned officer in charge of emergency management. The skills Airmen gained were proper wear of MOPP gear, covering and uncovering mission-critical assets, post-attack reconnaissance, and individual decontamination procedures."

According to Air Force Manual 10-2503: 1.3. Mission, “The Air Force will fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace with forces prepared to operate in CBRN environments. To maximize military projection of airpower during and after a CBRN attack, operations balance force survivability with mission continuation.”

To learn more about earthquake-preparedness tips, visit: