The 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineer Group (1st ECEG) was established to provide a wide variety of expeditionary planning, design, and construction capabilities for U. S. Air Forces Central (USAFCENT). These capabilities are executed through a Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer (RED HORSE) Squadron and two Civil Engineer Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force (BEEF) squadrons joined together to form the 1st ECEG. RED HORSE squadrons were first established in 1965 and provide the U.S. Air Force with a highly mobile, self-sufficient civil engineer response force to support contingency and special operations worldwide. Prime BEEF civil engineer squadrons perform contingency design, master planning, construction inspection, and light construction and repair missions on installations throughout the AFCENT area of responsibility and while not being self-sufficient like a RED HORSE squadron, they are highly mobile and scalable to meet mission requirements.
The 1st ECEG is a direct reporting unit under AFCENT and provides highly mobile, light and heavy construction and repair capability throughout the AFCENT area of responsibility when requirements or threat levels exceed normal civil engineer unit capabilities.
The primary mission of RED HORSE units are to assess, plan and establish facilities and infrastructure to support contingency operations and combat missions at any location in the world. Activities include rapid damage assessment, heavy damage repair, bare-base development, and heavy construction operations such as airfields, aircraft parking ramps, munitions pads, remote area hard surface runway construction and forward operating location assault landing strips, as well as, vertical construction such as K-Span facilities, pre-engineered buildings, and expedient structures.
The 577th Prime BEEF Squadron's core mission sets are light troop construction and Life/Health/Safety assessments and repairs, while the 777th Prime BEEF Squadron focuses on master planning, programming, design, surveying, and contract construction management. Each squadron leverages a network of Prime BEEF forward operating detachments that enable missions through forward interface with supported commanders and support of engineers as they move forward to conduct assigned missions.
The 1st ECEG represents a revolving composite of active duty, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard members. The 1st ECEG ranges in size from 400 to 600 combat Airmen assigned to the full range of ever fluctuating mission requirements. The group consists of a group staff and three squadrons: the 557th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron, the 577th Expeditionary Prime BEEF Squadron, and the 777th Expeditionary Prime BEEF squadron.
The 1st Civil Engineering Group (Heavy Repair), was activated on May 8, 1967 and headquartered at Tan Son Nhut, South Vietnam. The unit distinguished itself over the next three years by earning seven campaign streamers including one for the 1969 TET counter-offensive. On March 16, 1970, the 1st Civil Engineering Group (Heavy Repair) was reassigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The unit was deactivated the following year on Nov. 1, 1971.
The 1st Civil Engineering Group (Heavy Repair) was reactivated and redesignated the 1st Expeditionary RED HORSE Group in October 2001 in the aftermath of the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The 1st ERHG immediately provided beddown and combat construction operations at bases all over Southwest and Central Asia in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF). Mission taskings surged again with the initiation of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF) as Air Force units opened new bases, expanded additional bases, and recovered captured Iraqi bases. In March 2012 the 1st ERHG was transformed back to its original designation, the 1st ECEG, as changing needs in the Combined Joint Operations Area-Afghanistan (CJOA-A) necessitated a reorganization of the light and heavy construction capabilities in the AFCENT area of responsibility. Simultaneously, the 577th Expeditionary Prime BEEF Group (EPBG), based at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, was inactivated, transferring its two squadrons to the 1st ECEG.
The 577th Expeditionary Prime BEEF Group was established in September 2009. Its mission was to carry out installation engineer capabilities across the CJOA-A. At this time a fundamental shift in organizational structure moved Air Force engineers from tactical control (TACON) of Army Regional commands (RC) to theater-level assets, enabling focused support on regional level priorities set by each RC. This new concept significantly improved command and control of Air Force engineer forces across Afghanistan while simultaneously allowing agile movement of engineers throughout the battle space.
Both the 1st ERHG and the 577th EPBG have left their legacy of completed construction projects throughout the AFCENT AOR. The 1st ERHG hit the ground running and completed an astounding $90 million of construction within its first 12 months of existence. The 1st ERHG has been at the forefront of OEF, OIF, and Operation NEW DAWN. In support of those operations, the 1st ERHG has completed more than 370 projects valued at over $240 million dollars at more than 50 sites in 12 countries. The efforts of the 577th Expeditionary Prime BEEF Group squadrons have been focused squarely on the requirements in Afghanistan and in their three years of existence have yielded over 675 projects valued at over $346 million dollars as well as 88 master plans and 941 site surveys completed.