TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (WMBB) — Air Force Civil Engineers from across the world gathered at Tyndall Air Force Base this week to learn vital skills.
“We have airmen from the United Kingdom, as far out as Japan, as north as North Dakota,” Brigadier General Bill Kale said. They get short notice to come here and they’re expected to perform the necessary duties to recover an airfield after an attack.”
The ninth-ever ‘Readiness Challenge’ teaches airmen how to set up a small temporary base in a contested environment.
“This is the Super Bowl for Air Force civil engineers and we do it right here in Florida, the only place in the world where we do this training,” Kale said. “This is the most realistic thing that our airmen will face if they go into combat. We test these airmen. We don’t give them a lot of notice for this.”
In times of war, it is crucial for airmen to know how to work under pressure.
After learning more specialized tasks, the ‘Fog of War’ challenge brings all the components together.
“Throughout the week, they’ve been competing in events that are smaller and more focused on certain career fields working together,” MSgt Brad Johannes said. “This event, the ‘Fog of War’ event, brings it all together, and it forces all 41 members to work together and then allows the leaders to exercise their leadership and organize and equip their members to accomplish the task that they’ve been given to accomplish.”
Airmen constructed makeshift helipads, shelters, and other things as part of the ‘Readiness Challenge’, but while they work, they have obstacles thrown their way.
Explosions and tear gas went off to simulate an attack, forcing the engineers to suit up for protection.
“We are doing this in a simulated contested environment,” Lt Col. Craig Poulin said. “What that means is they’re not just going to get to work peacefully throughout the day. The 801st Red Horse training squadron has got a whole lot of different things ready to go to surprise them, challenge them and make them go through what we call alarm conditions where ‘Hey, incoming attack. Get ready for that attack. Survive the attack, recover your location, and continue the mission.”
Upon completion, the teams are graded on speed, quality, and safety as well as the overall capability of the temporary base.
The top three teams from the ‘Fog of War’ competition will be announced Friday.