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ATSO training strengthens unit readiness, ORI preparation

Airman 1st Class Zach Heintzelman of the 126th Air Refueling Wing, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., demonstrates how to properly don a gas mask during ATSO training at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 12, 2009. (United States Air Force by Senior Airman Maxwell Rechel)

Airman 1st Class Zach Heintzelman of the 126th Air Refueling Wing, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., demonstrates how to properly don a gas mask during ATSO training at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 12, 2009. (United States Air Force by Senior Airman Maxwell Rechel)

Staff Sgt. Craig Davis of the 123rd Security Forces Squadron demonstrates how to clear an M-9 pistol of live ammunition during decontamination training held Dec.    12, 2009, at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky. (United States Air Force by Senior Airman Maxwell Rechel)

Staff Sgt. Craig Davis of the 123rd Security Forces Squadron demonstrates how to clear an M-9 pistol of live ammunition during decontamination training held Dec. 12, 2009, at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky. (United States Air Force by Senior Airman Maxwell Rechel)

An instructor demonstrates the proper way to remove contaminated outergarments after exposure to simulated chemical agents during at ASTO exercise in the Main Hangar of the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 12, 2009. (United States Air Force by Senior Airman Maxwell Rechel)

An instructor demonstrates the proper way to remove contaminated outergarments after exposure to simulated chemical agents during ASTO training in the Main Hangar of the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 12, 2009. (United States Air Force by Senior Airman Maxwell Rechel)

Airmen prepare to enter a decontamination station after exposure to simulated chemical agents during at ASTO exercise in the Main Hangar of the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 12, 2009. (United States Air Force by Senior Airman Maxwell Rechel)

Airmen prepare to enter a decontamination station after exposure to simulated chemical agents during at ASTO exercise in the Main Hangar of the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 12, 2009. (United States Air Force by Senior Airman Maxwell Rechel)

Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing receive refresher training on chemical decontamination procedures during the December drill at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 12, 2009. (United States Air Force by Senior Airman Maxwell Rechel)

Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing receive refresher training on chemical decontamination procedures during the December drill at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 12, 2009. (United States Air Force by Senior Airman Maxwell Rechel)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing spent the December drill becoming reacquainted with an old friend -- their chemical warfare defense ensembles -- during basewide Ability to Survive and Operate training.

The ATSO refresher was designed to help Airmen brush up on chemical decontamination procedures as the base prepares for an Operational Readiness Inspection scheduled for May, said Col. Greg Nelson, wing commander.

Another ATSO exercise is slated for February, and the wing will be conducting mobility exercises today and tomorrow in preparation for the inspection, which will test the unit's ability to deploy to a remote location, survive enemy attacks, successfully perform its mission and return home.

This summer's ORI is unique because it will be the first one ever based on a homeland-defense scenario. Typical ORIs feature simulations in which units deploy to fight on foreign soil.

"This ORI is our chance to show the Air Mobility Command Inspection General why the 123rd Airlift Wing leads the way in the homeland security/homeland defense mission -- and why we're always ready to support the Commonwealth, the United States or our allies abroad any time they need us," Colonel Nelson said.

About 400 Kentucky Airmen are expected to deploy for the ORI. They will be joined by another 400 Airmen from active-duty and Reserve units, Colonel Nelson said.