By Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke
National Guard Bureau
STUTTGART, Germany (6/16/09) - Air National Guard civil engineers can use deployments in support of the State Partnership Program to prepare for war, a senior engineer for the service told conference participants here at Patch Barracks today.
“We look for opportunities to mimic those conditions,” said Col. John Elwood, who was here to tout the benefits of the “Deployment for Training” program.
As the name implies, the purpose of the program is to prepare civil engineers for wartime deployments.
These deployments can include: joint or expeditionary missions with nongovernmental organizations and other U.S. government agencies without traditional wing leadership structure; projects that require all civil engineering skills; exercises that test unit deployment processes and support; and various humanitarian and exchange programs, such as the State Partnership Program.
“We have the ability with one round to knock off three targets: we can use this to enhance our state partnerships, we can use this to train our civil engineers to go to war and we can use it to advance our combatant commanders’ theatre engagement,” he said.
Elwood is in charge of wartime readiness for about 9,000 engineering professionals in 71 Prime BEEF squadrons, 73 fire protection flights, 87 emergency management flights, 17 explosive ordnance disposal flights, five staff augmentation flights and eight RED HORSE squadrons.
“We look for joint force deployments, working with coalition partners … and expeditionary-type missions,” Elwood said. “It sounds a whole lot like State Partnership Program missions.”
Bilateral affairs officers attending the conference were encouraged to start planning these missions now. “If they engage us early, these missions can be win-win-win.
“They do great things when they are out there,” Elwood said. “They generally exceed the expectations of the combatant commanders.”
For example, last year Maryland and California Guard engineers renovated a school in Bosnia and restored a memorial to State Department officials who were killed in that country.
This year, the Ohio Air Guard will go to Hungary, and next year Elwood said he hopes to send North Dakota engineers to Ghana.
“I try to match the training needs with the deployment. If a unit tells me that they need to focus on their horizontal work, I will give them a road building project. There is a process I go through to source these teams.”
Elwood said he has deployed up to 60 teams in the past, but this year the number will be closer to 30. The ops tempo for Air Guard engineers has forced them to decrease the number.
Despite the downturn in these types of deployment, Elwood said he is confident in the results. “It produces trained, ready and capable engineers.”