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Training exercise keeps RED HORSE deployment ready

Airmen from the 819th RED HORSE Squadron prepare to perform a security sweep of the area to check for hazards during an exercise May 3, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Airmen from the 819th RED HORSE Squadron prepare to perform a security sweep of the area to check for hazards during an exercise May 3, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The purpose of the exercise was to increase the combat capability of the squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Heather Heiney)

Members of the 819th RED HORSE Squadron arrive at a field near Pow Wow Pond at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. for an exercise May 3, 2021.

Members of the 819th RED HORSE Squadron arrive at a field near Pow Wow Pond at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. for an exercise May 3, 2021. The exercise ran from May 3-5 and gave the squadron an opportunity to practice operating in a deployed environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Heather Heiney)

Members of the 819th RED HORSE Squadron carry an Airman on a stretcher to a simulated casualty collection point during an exercise May 4, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Members of the 819th RED HORSE Squadron carry an Airman on a stretcher to a simulated casualty collection point during an exercise May 4, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Because the 819th RHS is a self-contained unit, all members must be able to perform basic medical response in addition to their primary duties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Heather Heiney)

Senior Airman Terry Pittman and Airman Thomas Snow, 819th RED HORSE SQUADRON water and fuels system maintenance technicians, perform perimeter security during an exercise May 4, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Senior Airman Terry Pittman and Airman Thomas Snow, 819th RED HORSE SQUADRON water and fuels system maintenance technicians, perform perimeter security during an exercise May 4, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Being a self-contained unit, all members of the 819th RHS must be trained in security procedures in addition to their primary duties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Heather Heiney)

Members of the 819th RED HORSE Squadron lie low to the ground during a simulated attack scenario May 3, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

Members of the 819th RED HORSE Squadron lie low to the ground during a simulated attack scenario May 3, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base. The scenario was part of an exercise that the squadron conducted May 3-5 to enhance their deployment and contingency response capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Heather Heiney)

Members of the 819th RED HORSE Squadron perform crater profile measuring by looking between two triangles to check whether the crater is level May 3, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Members of the 819th RED HORSE Squadron perform crater profile measuring by looking between two triangles to check whether the crater is level May 3, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. They filled the crater as part of a scenario during an exercise May 3-5. (U.S. Air Force photo by Heather Heiney)

Members of the 819th RED HORSE Squadron inspect a crater after a simulated mortar attack during an exercise May 3, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

Members of the 819th RED HORSE Squadron inspect a crater after a simulated mortar attack during an exercise May 3, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base. Part of the exercise scenario involved assessing and repairing damage that could be caused during contingency operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Heather Heiney)

Airman 1st Class Janelle Caswell, 819th RED HORSE Squadron structural apprentice, assembles a sleeping tent May 3, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Airman 1st Class Janelle Caswell, 819th RED HORSE Squadron structural apprentice, assembles a sleeping tent May 3, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The 819th RHS is a self-sufficient, mobile squadron capable of rapid response and independent operations in remote environments worldwide. (U.S. Air Force photo by Heather Heiney)

Members of the 819th RED HORSE Squadron lay out the interior structure of a sleeping tent May 3, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Members of the 819th RED HORSE Squadron lay out the interior structure of a sleeping tent May 3, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The squadron conducted a deployment exercise May 3-5 and practiced bare base construction and contingency response. (U.S. Air Force photo by Heather Heiney)

Staff Sgt. Christopher D'Amata, left, and Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Hammond, 819th RED HORSE Squadron engineering technicians, use a survey-grade global positioning satellite device to plot the locations where structures will be built during an exercise May 3, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.
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Staff Sgt. Christopher D'Amata, left, and Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Hammond, 819th RED HORSE Squadron engineering technicians, use a survey-grade global positioning satellite device to plot the locations where structures will be built during an exercise May 3, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. During the exercise, squadron members built sleeping tents, shower facilities and other structures that would be necessary for a bare base in a remote location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Heather Heiney)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. --

The sounds of sledgehammers hitting metal, bulldozers scraping against concrete, generators turning diesel fuel into electricity and minor, controlled, explosions may seem like a lot of noise, but it makes for a realistic and dynamic training environment.

The 819th RED HORSE Squadron spent May 3-5 developing their skills and expertise in a mock deployment exercise scenario on Malmstrom Air Force Base.

After arming up, donning armored vests and helmets, and convoying all their necessary personnel and equipment around the base to simulate traveling to a deployed location, the squadron arrived at an empty field near Pow Wow Pond. When they arrived, they performed security sweeps of the area and began constructing a bare base including wiring generators for electricity and installing showers and a kitchen.

“This exercise is meant to increase the combat capability for the RED HORSE squadron,” said Capt. Keegan Vaira, 819th RHS director of operations, who also played the site commander during the exercise. “This kind of training is important because our day-to-day in garrison is mostly focused on the construction aspect of what RED HORSE does where this is more the contingency and the ability to survive and operate.”

RED HORSE stands for Rapid Engineer Deployable, Heavy Operational Repair Squadron, Engineer. They are a self-sufficient, mobile squadron capable of rapid response and independent operations in remote environments worldwide. In addition to civil engineers, the squadron includes Airmen from vehicle maintenance, supply, logistics plans, services, security forces, communications and medical career fields.

“The mission of RED HORSE is to have well-trained engineers that are capable of doing a wide range of humanitarian and combat operations around the world,” said Master Sgt. Derek Hays, 819th RHS site superintendent.

“We build anything, anytime, anywhere,” Vaira said.

During the exercise, the squadron also practiced wartime contingency operations including responding to security threats, administering basic medical assistance, and repairing damage. This involved practicing the proper wear of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear protective gear as well as using heavy machinery to fill a large crater in the middle of a simulated runway.

“What we’ve refined with this experience is the ability to work together as a team, both enlisted and officer,” Hays said. “It’s an opportunity for our senior enlisted members to grow our junior enlisted members and build that comradery as a tight-knit unit. We’ve got to count on each other anywhere in the world.”

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