TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Just a few years ago, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center overhauled the way Airmen recover damaged airfields. Today, the center is helping expand Air Force Rapid Airfield Damage Repair training opportunities by more than quadrupling the number of stateside training sites.
Currently, Tyndall is the only RADR training site in the continental United States. However, before the end of the year, AFCEC’s Readiness Directorate will help launch the first beta course at two new RADR training locations — the 145th Air National Guard Base in North Carolina and the Expeditionary Combat Support Training Certification Center in Georgia. Two more locations are planned for 2022 in Arkansas and North Dakota.
The increase in the number of sites directly meets the need of joint force commanders for mission ready engineers, said Master Sgt. Broc French, civil engineering contingency training manager.
AFCEC oversaw the RADR training program for 2,500 personnel in fiscal year 2020. By FY2022, the additional training sites are expected to support training opportunities for an estimated 6,500 Airmen.
Until recently, CE-focused training locations, other than Silver Flag sites, didn’t have the necessary equipment for proper contingency training.
Now the four regional training sites are outfitted with RADR kits and will soon add specialized training to their training schedules, said French. It includes 48 pieces of equipment valued at more than $32 million.
Silver Flag training exercises are required for all civil engineers and are the primary location for RADR training.
“This means there’s a high demand and a critical need to offer more flexible training schedules at more locations,” French said.
The new sites provide geographic coverage to the enterprise, saving time and money.
“We are working to give commanders the flexibility to send Airmen to a location within 10 hours of their home station to get familiar with the equipment and the RADR process in case an attack occurs,” he said.
Regardless of the location, instructors or class sizes, all five stateside locations, as well as Silver Flag locations at Andersen AFB, Guam and Ramstein Air Base, Germany will follow the same RADR curriculum, developed and maintained by AFCEC.
“We work with all locations to make sure everyone is on the same page, no matter the training location, to ensure engineers receive the same training through a standardized curriculum,” French said.
While COVID-19 effected training schedules for much of 2020, AFCEC was able to fall back into a regular training battle rhythm this year. The Silver Flag Tyndall site recently hosted a 10-day course with student-led, hands-on RADR exercise with 23 Airmen from Minot AFB, North Dakota, and Shaw AFB, South Carolina. The Airmen worked in teams using an assembly line, chain-reaction process to repair runway craters following a simulated enemy attack.
“The unique thing about this is its all-hands-on deck,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Born, RADR heavy contingency training instructor at Silver Flag Tyndall.
A scalable, eight-step process is used to reopen damaged airfields with up to 120 craters measuring over 8-feet wide, for any aircraft, within eight hours of an attack. It can also integrate other services and Allied countries into airfield recovery operations.
"Before RADR, airfield repair operations were built to support single airframes,” Born said. “Today we have an adaptive solution that supports all airframes and professionally trained Airmen.”
“It’s important for us to get our warfighters up in the air as fast as possible, and (RADR training helps ensure) all civil engineers are prepared and ready to go at any time to do that,” Born said.