203rd RHS refine skills at FTX while training for wartime mission

Airmen from the Virginia Air National Guard’s Virginia Beach-based 203rd RED HORSE Squadron refine essential skills and expeditionary training during a field training exercise Nov. 7-9, 2014, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. The multi-day FTX simulates wartime tasks including bare base establishment/operations, rapid runway repair and security controls. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Meghan Skrepenski, Virginia Air National Guard Public Affairs)

Airmen from the Virginia Air National Guard’s Virginia Beach-based 203rd RED HORSE Squadron refine essential skills and expeditionary training during a field training exercise Nov. 7-9, 2014, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. The multi-day FTX simulates wartime tasks including bare base establishment/operations, rapid runway repair and security controls. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Meghan Skrepenski, Virginia Air National Guard Public Affairs)

CAMP PENDLETON, Va. – Airmen from the Virginia Air National Guard’s Virginia Beach-based 203rd RED HORSE Squadron refined essential skills and expeditionary training during a field training exercise Nov. 7-9, 2014, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. Approximately 120 Airmen from the 203rd RHS participated in the multi-day FTX, which emphasized simulated wartime tasks including bare-base establishment and operations, rapid runway repair, and security controls.

“This is great training for our new Airmen as it allows them to apply the skills they learned through on-the-job-training in a exercise environment that reflects wartime scenarios,” said Lt. Col. Stock Dinsmore, 203rd RHS commander.

“This was the first training of this type for some of the Airmen, as the government shutdown cancelled this exercise last year and we weren’t able to re-schedule it,” said Dinsmore. “Many of the seasoned Airmen are now in the more senior positions where they can share their experience and knowledge throughout the exercise, as we focus on command and control, and operating processes.”

The evaluation team included members of the 202nd RHS from Camp Blanding, Fla., security forces and emergency management personnel from the 192nd FW, Joint Base Langley- Eustis, Va., and retiree volunteers from the 203rd RHS.

“We are here to make sure the training is accomplished to ensure they are ready for their wartime mission,” said Maj. Jeff E. Getz, of Virginia Joint Force Headquarters, the lead of the evaluating team.

The evaluators from the 192nd Fighter Wing Security Forces Squadron focused on proper weapons handling, entry control point security and control, and overall security and safety of the simulated forward operating base throughout the span of the exercise.

“The new Airmen are very excited and eager to learn,” said Master Sgt. Carmen Daniels, the 203rd RHS first sergeant. “The older Airmen provided mentorship throughout the exercise; this is the best type of environment to train in as it prepares them all for our wartime mission with realistic scenarios.”

The exercise focused on basics like general safety practices, setting up and protecting a base, and field hygiene while more specialized training included war-task training like convoy operations and airfield damage assessments and repair.

Several Airmen reflected on the training stating, “There is no substitute for hands-on training, as this is as close as we get to the real-world training.” The Airmen also said, “We are able to see things we need to work on more clearly during exercise scenarios and processes we need to improve to complete the job effectively and efficiently.”

Different equipment used by the 203rd RHS throughout the FTX included excavators, graders, front end loaders, fuel trucks, dump trucks, a mobile concrete paver, and the Mobile Aircraft Arresting System, which slows aircraft which may be unable to stop on damaged runways.

Over the past few years, concrete has been replaced and/or new concrete has been laid using the mobile concrete paver, throughout different areas of Camp Pendleton, combining training and functionally improving the base.

The training also included scenarios of sick and injured Airmen, which the 203rd RHS embedded medical team evaluated and treated.

“The medical team will typically have one to three members when fully staffed and may treat anything from minor illnesses to stabilization of serious injury in preparation for medical evacuation,” said Maj. Sarah Weston, the 203rd RHS physician assistant.

RED HORSE stands for Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers, and the unit provides a highly mobile civil engineering response force to support contingency operations worldwide.

The 203rd RED HORSE Squadron is a self-contained, rapid-response engineering force capable of doing expedient damage-requirements assessments, heavy-damage repairs, bare-base development and heavy construction operations such as constructing aircraft parking ramps, aprons, taxi and runways, roads and munitions pads. RED HORSE units possess special capabilities including well drilling, explosives demolition, quarry operations and concrete and asphalt paving. In addition, the unit has its own internal support personnel, including services, vehicle maintenance, security, logistics and information management.