Training keeps Georgia Guardsmen skills relevant at war and home

  • Published
  • By Capt. Greta Jackson
  • Georgia Air National Guard Public Affairs
Members of the Georgia Air National Guard's 116th Civil Engineering Squadron participated in Mission Essential Equipment Training at Dobbins Air Reserve Base from July 29 through August 2, 2013.

Approximately 50 unit members, representing all Air Force Specialty Codes within the Civil Engineering career field (with the exception of Explosive Ordinance Disposal), attended the training, which is required once every three years to maintain readiness.

There are four regional Air National Guard locations that offer this training, the closest one being New London, N.C., a geographically separated unit of Charlotte Air National Guard Base, N.C. However, the one location offered through the Air Force Reserve is on Dobbins, and with the Air Guard's closest site in North Carolina, Dobbins is a prime location for the 116th, as well as more economical, making it a better value for the taxpayer.

With roughly 85% of the unit present for training, Master Sgt. John Olver, first sergeant for the 116th CE squadron, was in residence to perform his duties as needed. "The training taking place prepares the men and women to answer the nation's call," he said. "Civil engineers are prepared for the war environment, as well as for natural disasters."

The training takes place in two phases. The first three days of the week-long curriculum is in a classroom environment, which would include any updates in the field. For heavy equipment operators, it would also include using an advanced, and sensitive, simulator program.

The second phase of training is out in the field using the hands-on method to sharpen skills and improve proficiency, the lack of which could result in damage to equipment or loss of life - either of which would be a severe blow to Air National Guard resources.

Civil Engineers are also required to undergo a specialized exercise and evaluation once every four years at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, consisting of four to five units from all the Air Force components.

The specialties that were represented during the training were the environmental control unit, water purification unit, emergency management and hazardous materials, structures and heavy equipment operators, and power production.

Although the specialties within the CE career field may seem pretty broad-based, each one of them is necessary both at home and in a deployed environment. When the military goes into an area for the first time, civil engineers are sent ahead of any other units to establish initial set-up.

The practical applications of these specialties in the war environment consist of using the heavy ground equipment to build up structures and provide initial set up and repair of runways; supplying potable water through the use and maintenance of the water fuel systems; providing power to the base as well as setting up, deploying and maintaining the aircraft arresting system; stabilizing the area with the use of the environmental control and refrigeration unit; and ensuring the area is free from toxic agents by testing the for hazardous materials.

The men and women of the 116th CES, who also use their skills to provide support to civil authorities as needed during natural disasters, are part of the 116th Air Control Wing located at Warner Robins Air Force Base, and recently awarded its 16th Outstanding Unit Award.