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NEO drill enhances base readiness

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Brooke Moeder
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The chance for evacuation, either from a threat change or natural disaster, is always a possibility and the 31st Fighter Wing is required to be prepared at all times.

The 31st FW conducted a Noncombatant Evacuation Operations drill (NEO), for the first time, on Oct. 25, 2021. This was to prepare units in the event that noncombatant members need to be evacuated.

A NEO is the ordered or authorized departure of civilian noncombatant and nonessential military personnel from danger in an overseas country to a designated safe haven.

“We are working on building this program from the ground up,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Melissa Carpenter, 31st Force Support Squadron officer in charge of readiness and plans. “This requires all base support agencies to work together and our evacuees to be prepared should they ever need to be evacuated.”

During the drill, 25 U.S. civilian employees and military spouses acted as “evacuees” and processed through the personnel processing center. The volunteers practiced using NEO tracking system machines to track and manifest evacuees if an evacuation or mass movement of noncombatants is required.

The intent behind NEO was to educate units and military dependents on the what, why, when and how of the procedures.

“We are rolling out the NEO program to each squadron, geographically separated unit and detachment to ensure all our noncombatants build their binders and prepare their kits in order to be prepared should the need for a NEO arise,” said Carpenter. “It is everyone’s job to be prepared for an emergency situation and our base’s NEO plan is one piece of that.”

One future goal is to have NEO integrated into briefings and trainings.

“We will be adding a NEO brief to Wyvern Welcome, sponsor training and more,” said Carpenter. “We are required to be prepared at all times and the NEO is one piece of that puzzle.”