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Al Udeid engineers enhance rapid airfield recovery skills

  • Published
  • By Capt. Scott Guerin
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

The 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron has dramatically increased its ability to repair a damaged airfield through continual process improvement initiatives by the Rapid Airfield Damage Recovery team at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

Airfield recovery operations are completed by our RADR team, comprised of over 100 ECES Airmen equipped with nearly 100 vehicles and other equipment assets.

For deployed locations like ours, the rotational nature of a job assignment can lead to experienced individuals being replaced with Airmen who have never been trained on (or have even heard of) the RADR program. To overcome this obstacle, our leadership worked with the U.S. Air Forces Central Installations and Mission Support Directorate to create a training plan for expert response.

The current RADR team arrived in the summer of 2020 and aimed to exceed what the training outlined by completing an exercise involving 10 concrete crater repairs and clearing hundreds of simulated unexploded ordnance during both day and night operations. Each step was carefully measured to compare performance against Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s established tactics, techniques and procedures.

Ensuring adequate training was only the first step for the team. They also completed four continuous process initiatives, starting with automating calculations for RADR material and time requirements. The program implemented allows “Minimum Airfield Operating Surface” calculations to be done within two minutes of a final damage rerecording, and a recommended course of action is produced.

In the second step, the team’s logistic chief and crater chief overlay the MAOS on a map of the AUAB airfield to determine the exact damage profile and material requirements for the repair. With this information, material is loaded by the warehouse team and conveyed to the repair site with more ease and efficiency.

Junior Airmen are rarely trained in large crater repair, necessitating it be the third step implemented into our training plan. Multiple large craters are incorporated into the training, creating a 24-hour operations simulation that further reveals how shift changes can impact repair efficiencies.

For these prior steps to be best accomplished in conditions similar to a real-world scenario, we require a space to practice repairing realistic damage to an airfield. The final step is to seek funding for the creation of a mock airfield segment on the explosive ordnance disposal range for “Rapid Explosive Hazard Mitigation” techniques. The EOD team and RADR team will be working to create a live REHM training range for realistic damage profiles to be created and to perform recovery operations at a greater realistic scope. We hope to implement this operational space within the next two years.

Each phase of our rapid airfield damage repair training, both currently used and planned for in the future, will determine the success of our team’s response to an attack. With multiple entities on base involved in this process, our RADR training is becoming more realistic and practical. Our Airmen are uniquely positioned to ensure operations continue within the CENTCOM area of responsibility with minimum delay.