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169th CES deploys to England for Exercise FLYING ROSE

  • Published
  • By Capt. Brandon Pruitt
  • 169th CES
The 169th Civil Engineer Squadron recently deployed to Waterbeach Barracks, a British Royal Army active duty installation in the United Kingdom, representing the United States Air Force in an annual exchange program between the two NATO allies. The two-week deployment involved a 37-member engineer team conducting contingency construction training with NATO partners in the annual exchange program called Exercise FLYING ROSE. Exercise FLYING ROSE was hosted by the British Royal Engineers of the 43rd Headquarters and Support Squadron, 25th Engineer Regiment, 12th Engineer Group (Air Support). The British Royal Engineers stationed at Waterbeach Barracks are the only British Royal Engineers with an Air Support mission similar to United States Air Force Engineers.

The intent of this exchange program is to enhance proficiency training of our engineer forces through execution of relevant contingency engineering projects and to benefit from the cultural exchange by training with our closest NATO ally. Our forces have common air support missions and it makes good sense to learn from one another as we continue to globalize many aspects of our lives to include jointly fighting the Global War on terror with our willing coalition partners.

The 169th CES engineers constructed a training Forward Operating Base (FOB) for the British Royal Engineers. They too want to train like they fight and the FOB provides a realistic training venue from which to execute their wartime tasks. The area was leveled and graded and earth-filled HESCO barriers were erected to provide force protection for the compound. Our personnel surveyed, and graded the area to provide positive drainage for the compound. They earth-filled HESCO barrier walls were erected along the compound perimeter and interlocked with corner security observation posts called "Sangers". Field expedient wooden stairways were designed and partially constructed to permit access to the Sangers in the FOB.

During this project CES operated their British heavy equipment, with steering wheels on the opposite side of the vehicle from we are used to, driving on the opposite side of the road and learning their terminology of the Equipment. For example, the common back hoe is referred to by the British Engineers as a "Light Wheely" and the dump truck is referred to as a "Tipper". This project was also a great opportunity for CES and our British counterparts to build relationships, exchange cultural values, and to share tactics, techniques and procedures in executing contingency engineering tasks. The FOB will allow the British Engineers to conduct effective training for future military operations.

CES also constructed some upgrades to one of their MWR facilities. Enhancements included the construction of a 400-foot shadow box fence around the facility perimeter with a 12-foot vehicle access gate and 120 lineal feet of safety guard rail around an existing deck. We also constructed them a masonry barbecue pit and just for fun, we constructed them a horseshoe pit and taught them how to play. The upgrade of the cantonment area played a vital role in the purpose of this deployment. During the construction of these projects, members of various trades were required to step out of their comfort zones. In the Air Force Civil Engineering career field there is the well-known term "multi-skilling", which breeds the culture of no union cards. In other words personnel skilled in electrical, utilities, and HVAC were developing the skills of other trades, such as carpentry. This allowed the CES structures personnel the opportunity to lead, and develop themselves professionally in communication skills through teaching and training members of other trades. Through this process airmen discovered their leadership capabilities and how to become more effective and influential leaders of our US Air Force. The British carpenters refer to themselves as "Chippy's". The British Engineers were very impressed with the work ethic and versatility of CES. Tasks were accomplished with consistency and in a timely manner. Proficiency levels of our skilled tradesmen were evident with precise lay-out, measuring and sawing techniques which resulted in outstanding finished products.

"This was an excellent team-building deployment that produced a tremendous boost to unit morale," said SMSgt Randy Hudson.

The members of CES painted 8,000 square feet of fencing, stained 6 picnic tables and guard railing, preserved the deck and re-coated a portion of the MWR facility's exterior wall to match the color of the newly painted fence. CES members also demonstrated diverse skills by constructing a barbecue pit at the barracks. The masonry workers also displayed their skills by targeting an opportunity in repairing a masonry/concrete underground utility junction box located in the cantonment area. The barbecue pit was effectively utilized at the end of deployment social function and awards ceremony hosted by our British counterparts and will serve as a great MWR venue. The British engineers never ceased to be amazed by the work ethic and productivity of the 169th CES.

"It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with people from another country and learn their ways, history and culture," said SrA Eplee, a structural apprentice.

The overall objectives for Exercise FLYING ROSE were met and exceeded. SCANG members returned with a greater set of technical skills, versatility and leadership skills. Above all, the relationship between 169th CES and the British Royal Engineers was strengthened and will be cherished.

"I think I speak for everyone when I say that this is one of the most rewarding deployments I have ever been on. Not only were we involved in building some very worthwhile projects, the time we spent with the British Engineers and the hospitality they extended to us is something that we will not soon forget," said SMSgt Martin Philpott.