Maryland Airmen prepare for engineering deployment

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Christopher Schepers
  • 175th WG - Maryland Air National Guard

Middle River, MD -- Maryland Air National Guard engineers recently conducted career field and readiness training at military sites across the region, June 22-24, as they prepare for deployment. 13 Airmen assigned to the 175th Civil Engineer Squadron, conducted the training at Ft. Indiantown Gap, Warfield Air National Guard Base, and H. Steven Blum Military Reservation.

The 175th CES used the newly opened ‘white space’ in their schedule, as they prepared to deploy Airmen around the globe.

“We had a pre-deployment training that was canceled unexpectedly, so we had a window of opportunity to train Airmen from multiple [career fields],” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Brian Vickers, 175th Wing deputy base civil engineer. “The training included a day of heavy equipment operations, a day of convoy experience and individual movement techniques, and a day of land navigation.”

The first day of training was held at the 201st Regional Training Site, a site for Air Force civil engineers to utilize for unique warskill specialty training and gain upgrade proficiency with state of the art technology and equipment, located at Ft. Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania.

“We were able to train Airmen from electrical and some of the other smaller shops that don’t necessarily need to be proficient with certain skills or have that equipment on their license,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Alicia Buhr, a structures journeyman assigned to the 175th CES. “We were able to get our people that experience and give them guidance and training all while learning skills to become proficient in their career.”

The utilization of the 201st RTS is part of a squadron-wide effort of the 175th CES to modernize training and heavy equipment on base.

“We train our own people internally but going up there gives us the opportunity to have an outside trainer with different perspectives,” explained Vickers. “They were extremely proficient instructors and can pick up right away when our Airmen are deficient or lacking in a certain area and in real time can reinforce certain skills.”

The next day consisted of convoy and dismounted patrol operations in full chemical gear at Warfield ANG Base in Middle River, Maryland. The training, which was conducted by other wing Airmen who recently attended Field Craft Hostile training at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakenhurst in New Jersey, helped prepare deployers to be ready to complete missions with gas masks, chemical suits, boots, and gloves during the summer heat.

“During the convoy training, we drove in MOPP 4 and worked on radio communications, which is not straightforward with all that gear on,” explained Vickers. “Convoys are a family of skills and we focused operations on CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosives) to see how we perform our jobs in that environment. We are trying to demonstrate and practice that capability now before we are in a real CBRNE environment.”

The last day of training consisted of land navigation training conducted by wing Airmen and was performed at Blum Military Reservation in Glen Arm, Maryland, where the Maryland Army National Guard Soldiers onsite provided maps and training aids to assist the Airmen with completing the course in the wooded terrain.

“Outside of satisfying training requirements, I was able to see our Airmen operating together,” said Vickers. “It also gives our Airmen the opportunity to build cohesion with each other because, in a lot of ways, our drill status Guardsmen don’t know each other and don’t have the opportunity to work together on a regular basis.”

Over three days, the members of the 175th CES were able to complete 80 vehicle qualifications and training requirements. The 175th CES leadership said they are confident that their Airmen are highly trained at their job and are ready for their mission overseas.

“Having a window of time to accomplish qualifications and build proficiency is rare,” said Vickers. “And without an opportunity like this, I would not feel as confident deploying our Airmen as I do now.”