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.”