Battling the cold: Hurlburt Field's arctic-ready airmen Published Nov. 1, 2023 By Airman 1st Class Hussein Enaya 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- In an era of ever-evolving challenges and threats, the Airmen of Hurlburt Field’s Mission Sustainment Team are constantly seeking new ways to prepare for the demands of the modern world. One such initiative took them to the McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force base in Florida, where they conducted intensive cold weather training, pushing the limits of their abilities and equipment. The McKinley Climatic Lab, renowned for its ability to simulate extreme weather conditions, played host to this vigorous exercise. On the second day of training, the temperature plummeted to a bone-chilling -10 Fahrenheit, providing the perfect testbed for the MST. U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Andre Jackman, 1st Special Operations Support Squadron Mission Sustainment Team commander, shared insights on the importance of the training. “This training really equipped us to prepare for larger training exercises, as well as real-world operations,” said Jackman. “With the near-peer threats we’re facing, our Mission Sustainment Team has been unifying, combining the expertise of Airmen from 26 different career fields to overcome any challenge.” U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Setota Touchette, 1st Special Operations Force Support Squadron MST personnel, explained the practical aspect of their training. “We’re here testing the manpower and the capabilities we have as a team, setting up and tearing down in a cold weather environment,” said Touchette. “This exercise prepares us for the yearly Emerald Warrior exercise and helps us understand the requirements for sustaining a camp in cold weather.” U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jonah Williams, 1st Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron MST personnel, detailed the broader scope of their training, “we’re preparing for deployments to cold environments. The intent is for us to be able to hastily set up tents, provide shelter, food, and whatever the Air Force needs in these challenging conditions.” MST’s mission isn’t limited to just people; it extends to the equipment they rely on. The cold weather presented unique challenges for their gear. As Jackman pointed out, “Equipment and personnel tend to operate differently in cold climates. This exercise allows us to adapt our equipment and learn how to navigate this environment effectively.” U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Luis Velez, 1st Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron material management superintendent, emphasized the scientific approach taken during the training. “We are quantifying scientifically how much we can do with the equipment and the personnel that we have,” explained Velez. “This training is vital for preparing our Airmen for the challenges they may face.” The intensive cold weather training exercise is a new experience for the MST. The harsh conditions and extreme cold simulation, allow the Airmen to adapt and manage their expectations for real-world scenarios. Jackman believes that this exercise should become an annual event. This world-class facility and service should be a regular part of their training regimen, he said. It not only sharpens the skills of the MST but also aligns with the national defense strategy, enabling the Air Force to be better prepared for the evolving threats in our modern world. The MST’s experience at the McKinley Climatic Lab is not just about training in cold weather; it’s about fostering unity, preparing for the unknown, and ultimately enhancing the mission readiness of these dedicated Airmen, according to Velez. This unique training experience may become a cornerstone of their yearly schedule, ensuring they’re always ready to face the challenges, wherever they arise. “We are no longer just a mission support group; we are MST,” says Velez.