128th Civil Engineers to Germany for Silver Flag exercise
128th Air Refueling Wing
/ Published December 09, 2019
MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- We train the way we fight. It’s an expression for a time-tested philosophy that has served the Air National Guard for generations. Personnel from the 128th Air Refueling Wing’s Civil Engineer Squadron deployed to Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany, for a 10-day exercise known as Silver Flag. For the Civil Engineer Airmen, Silver Flag is required training every four years to maintain the currency of practices and certifications.
Led by Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Lee, 128th Civil Engineer Squadron commander, the 128 ARW Airmen negotiated Silver Flag’s curriculum of real-world concepts that are conducted in extremely austere environments to equip Airmen with instruction for mission-adjacent readiness.
“Silver Flag training at the 435th Construction and Training Squadron was an excellent opportunity for Air National Guard Airmen to collaborate with U.S. Air Forces in Europe Airmen as they would in a Reserve Component Period deployment. The training curriculum was new and challenging for almost every CE career field and the exercise scenario and site was completely new to everyone,” said Lee.
Of the 170 Airmen that participated in this year’s Silver Flag, 35 were 128 ARW Airmen along with 14 Navy Seabees and the remaining from USAFE.
Some of the training included heavy equipment, HVAC, power production, water fuel system maintenance, electrical, operations, structural, fire management and emergency management.
Senior Master Sergeant Kyle Fugar, facilities superintendent with the 128 CES, has been on several Silver Flag exercises and knows the value in the training it offers.
“The Silver Flag training sites provide our Airmen with real-world scenarios to reinforce our Air Force Specialty Code skills preparing us for future deployments,” said Fugar.
While Lee appreciates what stateside training can offer, the fact that they must pack up their gear, get onto an aircraft and fly halfway around the world adds another element that is hard to replicate.
“The added requirement to travel overseas as we would if deploying to U.S. Central Command drove Airmen to cope with physical and mental fatigue not normally experienced at training sites stateside. Overall, our engineers left Ramstein having honed their contingency AFSC skillsets and are ready to showcase their capabilities,” said Lee.
The 128 CES Airmen returned from Ramstein with valuable experience in a contingency environment that allowed hands-on technical experience for high-demand, contingency tools and equipment generally not available at home station.