MASFAT Exercise tests AFMAO readiness

  • Published
  • By AFMAO Public Affairs
As the number of fallen service members returning from overseas has declined, the team at Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations has taken measures to ensure they remain ready to provide unsurpassed preparation and care for our nation's fallen heroes at all times.

One such measure is the mass fatality exercise AFMAO conducted here Aug. 13-20. 

"The purpose of the MASFAT was to test our team's ability to respond quickly and effectively to an unexpected situation well outside our current operations tempo," explained Col. Daniel Merry, AFMAO commander. "With our 'No Fail' mission, it is imperative we be able to flawlessly execute all aspects of our solemn mission with no notice and on a large scale."

The week-long exercise was based upon a scenario in which 50 joint force service members and Department of Defense civilians were killed in an attack overseas.

With such a large number of casualties and a compressed timeline, this scenario tested all AFMAO's procedures for bringing casualties of a mass fatality incident to Dover. 

"The exercise was designed to test our abilities from command and control, to family notifications, to conducting the actual dignified transfer movement, to triage and to the processing and preparation of remains," said Capt. John McCormick, AFMAO dignified transfer officer in charge. "But the exercise didn't solely test our ability to provide dignity, honor and respect to the fallen. It also covered our ability to provide care, service and support to the families of the fallen by using role players."

The role players added an extra sense of realism for the exercise. They too enabled the AFMAO chaplains and the family support teams to practice their roles. 
AFMAO, however, was not the only player in the exercise.   

Team Dover provided security forces, logistics readiness, protocol and public affairs support for the duration of the exercise - just as it does for every dignified transfer here at Dover.   
At the end of the exercise, Merry was pleased with the results.

"The strong cohesiveness and the stellar professionalism of AFMAO and Team Dover were apparent all throughout the exercise," said Merry. "I am very proud of this team, every member, every function. From observing our family liaisons and our controllers to our carry teams and our extremely talented mortuary technicians, it was simply incredible for me to watch how everyone demonstrated their dedication to our solemn mission. While we hope incidents like this never happen, it is good to know we are always ready and prepared."