U.S. Air Force, Army engineers prioritize interoperability to set INDOPACOM theater

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Elora J. McCutcheon
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

A recent announcement by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin regarding the strengthening alliances in the Indo-Pacific between the United States and the Philippines has made one thing clear: unity and a combined, all-domain effort could be the difference in winning large-scale, multi-domain battles the U.S. expects to fight in the future.

Interoperability is no longer a nice-to-have but a need-to-have; this includes collaboration between U.S. sister services to build the Indo-Pacific theater at a moment’s notice.

Cue: the 819th Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers (RED HORSE).

In line with Austin’s announcement, the 819th RHS recently hosted U.S. Army Col. Jeffrey Hall, 555th Engineer Brigade commander, for an immersive tour of their facilities and mission brief on Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., Feb. 2, 2023.

RED HORSE Airmen are known for being the most ready and preeminent heavy construction unit in the Department of Defense; adept at setting the theater with built-in infrastructure weapons systems without support and at a moment’s notice.

The 819th RHS and 555th Engineer Brigade have been partners for five years with the common goal of building competence and confidence with worldwide construction opportunities.

Though it was Hall’s first time visiting the construction-focused enablers here, he was not new to the long-standing relationship between the two units.

According to him, the U.S. Army is looking at improving airfield operations joint training to enhance performance in a contested environment.

The 555th Engineer Brigade and 819th RHS employ a service engineer personnel exchange program in which two Soldiers are stationed here and one Airman is stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to enhance mission understanding and build upon the foundation required for allied capacity.

Lt. Col. Justin Delorit, 819th RHS commander, discussed with Hall what RED HORSE had to offer regarding power projections.

 “Our mission now is to set the theater,” Delorit explained during his mission brief. “[Our work in] Tinian Island is proof-of-concept that we can deploy like we say we can and be self-sufficient.”

The Department of Defense signed an initiative in 2019 to build an alternate operations facility on Tinian which would serve as a divert airfield in the Western Pacific; the 819th RHS has contributed in the form of site assessment teams and engineer support for program management.

“The 819th RHS continues to train and equip to meet the demands of the Pacific Theatre,” said Chief Master Sgt. Nathan Laidlaw, 819th RHS senior enlisted leader. “Department of Defense-wide partnerships create opportunities to innovate and excel as a joint team.” 

This prioritization runs parallel to the expedient nature in which the U.S. is advancing military presence in the Indo-Pacific region to stand against threats from China and North Korea.