News: Ga. Air Guard civil engineers train for combat operations at Silver Flag
Story by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - Thirty-four Georgia Air National Guardsmen from the 116th Civil Engineering Squadron, capped off a successful week of intensive contingency training Thursday at Silver Flag located at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.
Deployed to a simulated bare-base combat environment, the Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force, or Prime BEEF, from the 116th Air Control Wing along with 219 Airmen from multiple Air Force active duty, Reserve, and Air National Guard units, set up and maintained a fully operational base from the ground up.
While combating simulated attacks complete with life-like explosions, gunfire, chemical and radiological agents, and casualties, the Airmen stood up a command and control center, conducted bed down planning, erected shelters, set up water and power operations, repaired damaged runways, cleared minefields, and conducted emergency management and security operations.
“Silver Flag enabled us to train to our wartime task standards,” said Chief Master Sgt. David Fite, 116th Mission Support Group superintendent. “This training, accomplished every 45 months, provides our wing with top-notch certified engineers that will be able to rapidly deploy anytime, anywhere in the world.”
Nearly 50 percent of the squadron has deployed in the past two years.
Silver Flag provided the Airmen a large stock of contingency equipment with which to train for these deployments that most Prime BEEF units don’t have at their home stations due to cost.
During the course of the week leading up to the exercise, the civil engineers received intensive classroom and hands-on equipment training in each of their respective career fields from some of the Air Force’s top subject matter experts from the 823rd Red Horse Squadron.
“Having just returned from Tech School, this exercise gave me the chance to use the equipment I learned about in school,” said Senior Airman Terrell Green, a structural apprentice with the 116th CES. “Watching the NCOs in action and learning from the Red Horse instructors was one of the best things I took away from the exercise.”
In a sentiment expressed by a number of the Guardsmen, Staff Sgt. Marquette Davis, a heavy equipment operator with the 116th CES, commented about the camaraderie and teamwork prevalent at the exercise.
“Whenever I performed a task and needed help or guidance, someone always stepped up to help me,” said Davis. “Whether they were active duty, Guard or Reserves, if they saw I needed help they were there. It was a great experience and something definitely needed before a deployment to put you in the right mindset and show you what you will be accountable for when you deploy.”
They are also more prepared to respond to emergencies in support of their state mission according to Fite.
“Back in 1994 when Georgia had the flood, our utilities specialists assisted the Quartermaster Battalion from Alabama in making potable water for the citizens of Georgia,” said Fite. “That’s just one way that this training can help our local communities.”