Mich. Cadets Conduct 'Operation Wolverine' Despite Pandemic Restrictions
Cadet Maj. Nicholas L. Tupper
Cadet Public Information Officer
More than 100 Michigan Wing members turned out – though most worked remotely because of pandemic-related restrictions – Sept. 26 for the wing's annual “Operation Wolverine," a cadet-run emergency services training exercise that allows younger members to fill leadership roles.
The incident command post for the exercise was located in Owosso, with a communications post set up at the State Emergency Operations Center in Lansing. Only 15 members were present at the two sites; all others worked remotely or in the field.
Cadets serve at all levels at Operation Wolverine, from ground team member to incident commander. The senior members involved are there to serve – not direct – the cadets in charge.
This year's Operation Wolverine was the first “large wing-wide training event in the (CAP-USAF) Great Lakes Liaison Region since the onset of COVID-19 shutdowns,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Todd Wasilewski, who observed the exercise in Owosso.
The incident management team cadets managed the operations and support of the ground teams and aircrews.As part of Operation Wolverine, ground teams were deployed in Jackson, Battle Creek, Detroit and Grayling. They spent the day completing different assignments and scenarios while working on their ground team member qualifications.
The cadet-run ground teams focused on preparation for participating in real-world search and rescue, missing person or disaster relief missions. They completed a total of 13 training scenarios involving numerous tasks.
During the training, the Michigan Wing employed its fleet of CAP aircraft to train mission pilots, scanners and observers across the state’s lower peninsula. Aircrews completed 20 training scenarios, including search and rescue, emergency locator transmitter searches, forward observation, domestic operations awareness and assessment response tools (DAART) and aerial photography. They also performed air-to-ground coordination to work together with the ground teams to find simulated missing aircraft.
One aircrew flew as “high bird,” serving as a radio repeater above 10,000 feet. Doing so extended the range of radios far enough that the communications hub in Lansing as well as the incident command post in Owosso was able to talk to ground teams and aircrews through VHF radios. A total of 20 air training scenarios were completed by aircrews .
The management team used online systems like Zoom and Google to stay in constant contact and operate in a virtual office setting. The incident management team then used radio systems to communicate to the ground teams and aircrews.