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Joint effort expands runway capabilities for Red Tails

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Christopher Parr
  • 332d Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Flight operations at the 332d Air Expeditionary Wing will expand as the 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineer Group completes a runway project later this month.

The runway extension, or overrun, will better accommodate aircraft take-off and landing operations and provide extended mission capabilities for the 332d AEW by replacing the non-load-bearing surface and providing improved capabilities in the event of an emergency takeoff or landing.

The 1st ECEG provides theater-wide engineering technical services and agile engineer forces in both developed and austere environments across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility. The group engineers combat airpower and establishes and sustains combat platforms for USCENTCOM and other joint forces.

“The 1st ECEG builds warfighting platforms and delivers emergency response capabilities,” said Col. Clifford Theony, 1st ECEG commander. “The overrun repair project here is an important part of our mission.”

The 1st ECEG capabilities are executed by two squadrons: a Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer Squadron and a Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force Squadron. Often RED HORSE and Prime BEEF work separately, both with different primary roles, but are working in unison to complete this project because its scope requires skillsets from both units.

The 577th Expeditionary RED HORSE is typically responsible for full building or large airfield construction. The 577th Expeditionary Prime BEEF handles all special capabilities as well as provides a mobile construction force to backfill requirements of main base civil engineer units.

“My job is to provide the right Airman, right tools, and the right materials at the right place and time, moving Airman all around the AOR to accomplish the mission and have this project ready by the June 30th deadline,” said Theony. “I am impressed with the coordination between the units to form one team and execute the mission safely. It’s a commander’s dream.”

This disparate group of Airmen were brought together from across the AOR and executed their schedule at an astounding pace Maj. William Kenny, 557th ERHS site officer in charge, remarked. Due to its time-sensitive nature, the two squadrons combined to ensure this project stayed on course, he added.  

“In my 14 years in the Air Force with three RED HORSE deployments, I’ve never seen or even imagined the two squadrons could work as closely and as well as this team did,” said Kenny. “This combined teamwork made the project successful, no question about it.”

The aggressive timeline for project completion required continuous operations with one crew placing the concrete at night and another setting the forms for the next pour during the day. This allowed for a reduction of three months from the initial proposed schedule and the project is on track to fall under the original budget.   

“This project will set the benchmark for what fully-integrated group projects should be,” added Kenny.  

The lessons learned here will have a lasting impact on how Active Duty, Guard and Reserve personnel integrate into future, large-scale rapid building projects across the globe.