Air Guard engineers conduct multi-day field training exercise

  • Published
  • By Mr. Cotton Puryear
  • 203rd REDHORSE

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — More than 100 Airmen from the Virginia Air National Guard’s Virginia Beach-based 203rd Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer conducted a multi-day field training exercise Nov. 2-5, 2017, at Camp Pendleton State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The purpose of the FTX was to practice the squadron’s contingency and wartime capabilities in a simulated field environment over four days.

“We want to exercise the command and control for operating in a bare-base environment,” said Lt. Col. J. Stock Dinsmore, commander of the 203rd. “Our Airmen train on their individual tasks throughout the year, so this FTX is more about putting it all together and challenging us to run the entire base camp effectively.”

The 203rd RED HORSE is a highly-mobile civil engineering response force that provides heavy repair capability and construction support for contingency operations worldwide. The squadron is a self-contained, rapid-response engineering force capable of doing expedient damage-requirements assessments, heavy-damage repairs, bare-base development and heavy construction operations such as constructing aircraft parking ramps, aprons, taxi and runways, roads and munitions pads.

RED HORSE units possess special capabilities including well drilling, explosives demolition, quarry operations and concrete and asphalt paving. In addition, the unit has its own internal support personnel, including services, vehicle maintenance, security, logistics and information management.

The 203rd returned from their last federal active duty deployment in October 2016 where they completed 35 projects valued at more than $32 million in nine different locations in five countries in support of U.S. Air Force Central Command and Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.

The FTX scenario stated that the 203rd was provided intelligence and satellite images of the proposed base location around an abandoned airfield in Iraq, Dinsmore said. The planned mission was to repair the airfield and establish minimal support facilities required to sustain C-130 airplane operations.

“We will task our design team to design these requirements while concurrently tasking our construction forces with simulated training scenarios that mirror many of the tasks required to repair the airfield and construct the facilities for the C-130 operations,” Dinsmore said.

The first day of the FTX focused on mobilizing the Airmen and having them inprocess, draw weapons and conduct briefings. While that is taking place, and advance party occupies the training site and puts up tents, cranks up the water purification unit and generators and establishes security to prepare for the main body to arrive. As the main body comes in, more tents go up, and a base camp starts to take shape.

Dinsmore explained that the FTX has scenario injects from simulated enemy attacks, possible chemical exposure and even a rodent infestation to test the 203rd’s ability to respond and develop the solutions to address the problems.

Different equipment used by the 203rd hroughout the FTX included excavators, graders, front end loaders, fuel trucks, dump trucks, a mobile concrete paver, and the Mobile Aircraft Arresting System, which slows aircraft which may be unable to stop on damaged runways.

The Airmen simulated repairing a crater on a runway on the airfield damage repair site constructed by Airmen of the Ohio National Guard’s 200th RED HORSE along with the 203rd and the Montana Air National Guard’s 219th RED HORSE.

On day three of the exercise, Dinsmore indicated he was please with how the unit was performing.

“We have some things that worked out very well, and we have also found some things we can tweak and make better,” Dinsmore said. “It is always the little details that get you.”