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JSTARS unit beefs up for disaster

Senior Airman Dennis Tippens, left, and Master Sgt. Joel Furlough, 116th Civil Engineer Squadron, Georgia Air National Guard, take possession of two route clearance kits from a truck driver at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., June 27, 2013.  The civil engineering arm of the 116th Air Control Wing will use the kits, consisting of multi-purpose Kubota tractors, when called upon to quickly respond to disasters in their region.  The equipment gives the unit the capability to clear debris in the area of a disaster so emergency operations personnel can respond. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Pamela Stauffer/Released)

Senior Airman Dennis Tippens, left, and Master Sgt. Joel Furlough, 116th Civil Engineer Squadron, Georgia Air National Guard, take possession of two route clearance kits from a truck driver at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., June 27, 2013. The civil engineering arm of the 116th Air Control Wing will use the kits, consisting of multi-purpose Kubota tractors, when called upon to quickly respond to disasters in their region. The equipment gives the unit the capability to clear debris in the area of a disaster so emergency operations personnel can respond. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Pamela Stauffer/Released)

Master Sgt. Joel Furlough, 116th Civil Engineer Squadron, Georgia Air National Guard, performs an inventory and acceptance inspection of a route clearance kit at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., June 27, 2013.  The civil engineering arm of the 116th Air Control Wing will use the kits, consisting of multi-purpose Kubota tractors, when called upon to quickly respond to disasters in their region.  The equipment gives the unit the capability to clear debris in the area of a disaster so emergency operations personnel can respond. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Pamela Stauffer/Released)

Master Sgt. Joel Furlough, 116th Civil Engineer Squadron, Georgia Air National Guard, performs an inventory and acceptance inspection of a route clearance kit at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., June 27, 2013. The civil engineering arm of the 116th Air Control Wing will use the kits, consisting of multi-purpose Kubota tractors, when called upon to quickly respond to disasters in their region. The equipment gives the unit the capability to clear debris in the area of a disaster so emergency operations personnel can respond. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Pamela Stauffer/Released)

Two route clearance kits assigned to the 116th Civil Engineer Squadron, Georgia Air National Guard, arrive for service at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., June 27, 2013.  The civil engineering arm of the 116th Air Control Wing will use the kits, consisting of multi-purpose Kubota tractors, when called upon to quickly respond to disasters in their region.  The equipment gives the unit the capability to clear debris in the area of a disaster so emergency operations personnel can respond. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Pamela Stauffer/Released)

Two route clearance kits assigned to the 116th Civil Engineer Squadron, Georgia Air National Guard, arrive for service at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., June 27, 2013. The civil engineering arm of the 116th Air Control Wing will use the kits, consisting of multi-purpose Kubota tractors, when called upon to quickly respond to disasters in their region. The equipment gives the unit the capability to clear debris in the area of a disaster so emergency operations personnel can respond. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Pamela Stauffer/Released)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The 116th Air Control Wing's civil engineer squadron has been chosen among a select group of Air National Guard CE units throughout the nation to take on an additional mission that will bolster their ability to respond to disasters in the Southeast United States.

To meet this mission, the Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force, or Prime Beef unit, took delivery of two route clearance kits Thursday at Robins Air Force Base, Ga.

"During Hurricane Katrina, which we responded too, Domestic Operations found that getting to a location hit by a disaster could be time consuming because of debris," said Chief Master Sgt. David Fite, superintendent of the 116th CES.

"Whether it's trees on the road, overturned cars, or piles of rubble, this equipment will give us the capability and skill set to clear the way for emergency operations personnel to respond," shared Fite.

Located in the heart of FEMA Region 4, the 116th CES will use the multi-purpose Kubota tractors with buckets, grappling hooks and brooms to provide Guardsmen a mobile and versatile tool set to respond quickly to disasters that strike their region, according to 116th CES Prime Beef Manager, Senior Master Sgt. James Love.

"The addition of route clearance kits to the 116th CES' equipment listing provides a tremendous capability to the Georgia Air National Guard to assist our civilian partners in times of disaster and ensures the 116th Air Control Wing will play a vital role in protecting the citizens of Georgia," said Col. Greg McCreary, 116th Mission Support Group commander.

Having the equipment in their own backyard will provide more opportunity for drill status Guardsmen to get the training they need at home, added Fite.