Georgia ANG civil engineers lead the pack for Boy Scout construction project

  • Published
  • By Public Affairs
  • 116th Air Control Wing
A team of 34 civil engineers from the Georgia Air National Guard headed north April 19 for two weeks to provide their muscle and expertise to the Boy Scouts while training for a new method of deployment at Camp William Hinds.

Of the 87 Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force--or Prime BEEF--the 116th Civil Engineer Squadron from Robins Air Force Base was chosen as the lead unit to kick off an Innovative Readiness Training project to construct a new dining facility for the Boy Scout camp.

Established in 1993, the Civil-Military IRT program provides real-world training opportunities for military units while supporting the needs of underserved American communities.

According to Chief Master Sgt. David, superintendent of the 116th Mission Support Group, this IRT deployment provided the opportunity to train for the new future of Prime BEEF deployments.

"We're used to deploying a handful of folks here and a handful there," said David. "In the years ahead we will start doing a spin-up and deploying as whole unit."

"This project allowed our squadron to build teamwork and we did it while using both junior commissioned and non-commissioned officers and Airmen to make it happen," shared the Chief.

While the squadron boasts a number of professionals seasoned from years of overseas and stateside deployments, the IRT project offered the chance for less experienced Guard members to grow, according to squadron leadership.

"This was my first deployment for training with the 116th and my first as an officer," shared 2nd Lt. Chad, a newly commissioned officer who served as second-in-command during the deployment.

The prior enlisted Airman served as a key member of the command staff responsible for the deployed Airmen and numerous moving parts required for successful mission completion.

"This rotation, in my opinion, is by far the most important rotation of the entire Innovative Readiness Training project," said Chad. "If the bare base is not set up during our rotation, the next rotation will not have the necessary infrastructure in place to start their tasks."

Another first-timer shared a similar sentiment.

"This training allowed me to witness a complete view of how our squadron functions during a deployment," said Senior Airman Tarrell, a structures apprentice with the squadron. "This is my first training mission with this unit and it is very impressive to see how the unit moves from civilians to highly trained and skilled Airmen."

Similar to contingency operations overseas and stateside disasters like Hurricane Katrina; which the 116th CES supported, the civil engineers constructed a tent city complete with sleeping shelters, latrine and shower facilities, and a morale tent.

In all, the squadron set up nine tents, installed an entire electrical grid, renovated electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems on two shower shave trailers, and worked with the duration staff to ensure materials and equipment are on site to continue the mission for future rotations. Future rotations will include Navy Seabees, Air National Guard and Marine Corp civil engineers.

For many members of the 116th CES, the opportunity to work at the Boy Scout camp was more than just an opportunity for valuable training.

"So many of us in the unit were Boy Scouts growing up so we went from one uniform to another when we joined the military," shared Maj. Michael, commander of the 116th CES.

"This deployment provided a chance to give back to an organization that gave many of us our military roots," said Michael.

According to figures provided by squadron leadership, the Boy Scouts will realize an estimated two-thirds savings in construction cost over the course of the entire project.

"Our goal is to eliminate debt, start dynamic and engaging programs, and rebuild four council camps that suffer from 30 years of deferred maintenance," said Eric Tarbox, CEO of the Pine Tree Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

"With nearly 10,000 registered Scouts and volunteers being served by the camps in Maine, the Innovative Readiness Training program turned our dream into a hard objective with specific goals, timelines, and priorities of work," said Tarbox.

"Our partnership will result in thousands of training hours for our military and significantly expanded service to youth."

(Last names of military personnel withheld for security purposes)