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¬Military children experience mock deployment during OFF

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - -- The 460th Force Support Squadron hosted the 7th Annual Operation Future Forces Oct. 3 at Camp Rattlesnake on Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado.

"Operation Future Forces is an event that we established to show kids ages 8-18 kind of what their parents go through when they deploy," said Master Sgt. Pourshia Chambers-Motley, Buckley Airman and Family Readiness Center NCO in charge. "We wanted them to see what their parents go through in a deployed environment from training to actually going out on a mock mission."

The children were up early in the morning to start in-processing where they were given t-shirts, backpacks with a hat and water bottle inside and an Air Force Specialty Code badge. Children were then led into a room to "swear in" with the 460th Space Wing commander, Col. John Wagner. After that, volunteers were able to get their heads shaved before heading off to "Basic Military Training" which consisted of multiple athletic activities in the youth center gym.

Once basic training was over, the children were shipped off to Camp Rattlesnake to learn their specific AFSCs during mock tech schools. Each child attended a combat journalism, communications, civil engineering, intelligence, medical or security forces technical training school, depending on what AFSC they had been assigned.

After that, armed with squirt guns and the knowledge from their individual technical training schools, chalks of 10-12 children went on their mock deployment.

During the deployment, the children ran into non-hostile citizens that didn't speak English, but needed the children's help with a sick family member. The children had to use situational awareness and their training to determine that the citizens were indeed friendly, as well as figure out how to help the sick person. After their guards were down, they were ambushed by some hostile citizens, again forcing the children to rely on their training to bring their chalk to safety.

The mock deployment also consisted of mock unexploded ordnance that the children had to identify, injured allies who needed medical attention, reconstructing a broken tent, and weapons training with paintball guns.

"We tried to make it fun, without really scaring them, but wanted to give them a piece of what it's like to be in a deployed environment," Chambers-Motley said. "We want kids to understand when their parents go away to deploy, that it's for a good reason. I had three children that participated and it was important to me to show them that when (me or their dad are) getting deployed that (we're) making the world a better place."

Vince Kurtz, Youth Programs teen coordinator, said the main focus of the event was for the kids to have fun, while shedding light on many of the stresses commonly experienced when a loved one deploys.

"(We wanted) the kids to enjoy themselves so they would have a positive experience of what their parents go through," he said. "So that they understand that (their parents are) taking care of people and they're taking care of the mission, as well as alleviate some of the fears the kids have when their parents get deployed."

After a full-day of activities, the children were transported back to the youth center for a homecoming party, where their parents greeted them at the doors with signs and balloons.

According to Chambers-Motley, the event was a huge success.

"Every kid that I talked to talked about what a blast they had," she said.
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