KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- In the Air Force, a “Field Training Exercise” happens in a bare-base environment and is designed to provide Airmen the opportunity to experience what it is like in a deployed location. A lot of planning must take place before the actual event. In the case of the 210th RED HORSE Squadron’s FTX, it took more than a year before the training occurred.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we had to reschedule and modify the training plan in order to keep Airmen safe and healthy, while still providing plenty of hands-on experience and other essential training,” said Maj. Delilah Gavaldon, Force Support Officer, 210th RED HORSE Squadron.
The 210th RED HORSE (Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers) Squadron, New Mexico Air National Guard, is home to more than 100 Airmen across 25 Air Force Specialty Codes.
“Essentially, our mission is to provide self-sufficient, expeditiously mobile, civil engineer teams capable of heavy vertical and horizontal construction operations in any remote and high-threat location. This means, RED HORSE has to be fully-trained, equipped and confident in their skills and their team,” said Gavaldon. “RED HORSE’s culture is, ‘can do, will do’. This means, first, you learn your job, then you learn how to cover down and be able to help each other with their roles and responsibilities.”
Though training requirements are in place per Air Force Instruction, each FTX has a different focus. This year, in addition to the normal bare-base set-up, the 210th RHS collaborated with the New Mexico Army National Guard who provided instructors with combat experience.
“They taught us individual and team movement techniques, how to cover and conceal, weapons handling, combat organization, integrated defense, base defense, Entry Control Point procedures and how to handle Enemy Prisoner of War situations,” said Gavaldon. “The benefit of having outside instructors, is that it allowed every member of RHS to be fully engaged in the learning and application process. The instructors not only challenged our unit during practical application exercises, they also looked for battle vulnerabilities and took the opportunity to correct them.”
And all of this training was accomplished despite the new challenges of working with COVID-19 restrictions and safety considerations.
“The attitudes of the 210 RHS Airmen were great during the exercise. Once expectations were set for training, the 210 RHS airmen executed in an outstanding manner,” said Gavaldon. “Our unit truly had a good time and put forth great effort into learning and applying the instructed lessons. We performed as a team and supported each other throughout the exercise.”