RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
Thirty-two Airmen from the 130th Civil Engineer Squadron participated in Silver Flag training at the United States Air Forces Europe Contingency Training Site at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sept. 9 through 17, 2017.
Silver Flag builds on home station training with additional classroom time and hands-on opportunities to prepare Airmen to perform their expeditionary combat support functions.
Lt. Col. Steven McCollam led the West Virginia Air National Guard team to meet up with active duty counterparts for a Total Force effort that focused on Civil Engineering missions of building a bare base, repairing a damaged airfield to receive aircraft, and emergency service responses to include Fire Department, Emergency Management, and EOD; Force Support missions of feeding, lodging, mortuary, and personnel responsibilities; as well as command and control activities.
Silver Flag included several days of training and then culminated with a two-day exercise where the team “deployed” to a forward location to construct a beddown site and repair a damaged airfield within a given timeframe while at the same time overcoming various attack scenarios and obstacles.
Several young WVANG Airmen attended Silver Flag for the first time and shared their experiences.
Senior Airmen Zain Nelson, a Water and Fuels journeyman, appreciated working on equipment such as the Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit (ROWPU), shower/shave unit, and the field deployable latrine that are part of his wartime mission, but are not available at home station. He said that “I now know how important communication with other career fields is to overcome different obstacles and accomplish tasks to complete the beddown process.”
Air Force Civil Engineers have a unique skillset to forward deploy and build a base from the ground up in preparation to receive additional troops and missions. They then serve as a mobile public works department like we find in municipalities across the United States to support the mission by providing power generation and distribution, water, sewage and waste removal, shelter, lighting, and other necessities for the base.
One primary mission of CE is to ensure the runway and airfield are ready for aircraft. This includes inventorying existing damage or unexploded ordinances, selecting the minimum operation strip, repairing airfield craters and spalls, installing airfield lighting and precision approach path indicators, placing airfield distance and pavement markings, and installing the mobile aircraft arresting system.
Structures troop, Airman 1st Class Lucas Humphreys, enjoyed working with other career fields to accomplish this mission. He stated, “I learned to communicate during air damage repair, which I had only read about in tech school and in my CDCs. It was great to get my hands dirty and see how things actually came together – rather than just reading about it.”
The Civil Engineering Squadron also includes emergency responders to accomplish firefighting, emergency medical response, emergency management, and explosive ordinance disposal missions.
Airman First Class Nathaniel Arthur, a firefighter, valued the training time as he said, “Silver Flag put all my training together to accomplish the mission. Seeing men and women from across the world come together to accomplish tasks opened my eyes to the Air Force way. I enjoyed meeting other Air Force firefighters to discuss the job and life in general. I am honored to receive this type of training so early in my career.”
As expected, the WVANG was well poised to work alongside their active duty counterparts. Arthur noted that “This training showed me how great the workers from the 130th Airlift Wing are at their jobs. We mixed with units from around the world and successfully accomplished each task. Every career field could help others and learn more about the tasks we don’t do every day at our home station. We will all be much more prepared and ready if we are deployed.”
The Silver Flag training prepared members for likely deployments in the near future. Cadre and student team leadership team noted the seamless Total Force integration of the 130th Civil Engineers that continue to make West Virginia and the Air National Guard proud.