Repairing the field, one hole at a time

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Greg Erwin
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

The sound of heavy machinery fills the air as dust flies. Noise grows louder as drills and saws cut through pavement, evidence of people hard at work. The cloud of dirt lifts overhead and clears to reveal the project behind the racket and debris– airfield repair.

Members from the 18th Civil Engineer Squadron and members from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force worked together in an exercise on simulated airfield repairs at Kadena Air Base, February 28th.

“We’re conducting a joint training with our JASDF counterparts,” said Senior Airman Tyler Preston, 18th CES heavy equipment operator. “We’re going through the rapid airfield damage recovery, or RADR process. We’re trying out different pieces of equipment and showing the JASDF members the process as well.”

Learning a new system and new technology to complete repairs can be a challenge not only for the 18th CES, but for Kadena’s bilateral partners as well. This exercise helped both nations learn the new processes and machinery that would be used in various scenarios they may encounter in the field, whether it’s a small section of airfield or a large scale repair.

“The JASDF Air Civil Engineering Group is doing various research for airfield damage and recovery with this exercise,” said Major Eiji Nakamura, JASDF engineer. “We are honored to train on the latest technology with the U.S. military.”

When working together on a project like this, the two parties are able to share ideas and processes, showcasing interoperability of the allied nations. Exercises like this RADR one are used to keep both nations prepared for when their skills may be needed on repairs to infrastructure on short notice. By training together, they’re able to learn different solutions from each other to common problems.

“They bring a lot of knowledge to the table -- you see how they do things differently than we do,” Preston said. “It’s nice to pick up different methods.”

Without the Airmen and contractors at the 18th CES, Kadena’s mission may not be able to continue as planned. Whether during peace or wartime, their efforts are directly correlated to every unit being able to push forward at a rapid pace.

“We’re mission critical because we maintain the airfield,” Preston said. “In a wartime situation, the faster we can clear the airfield, the faster we can get planes back up.”

Airfield repair isn’t all that the 18th CES covers, and their footprint can be seen all over the base.

Anything from filling potholes in roadways to construction of new infrastructure the 18th CES works hard, despite what may be unknown to some. Without their efforts, the roads, buildings and the entire base could fall apart – literally.

“I don’t think a lot of people think about us in the 18th CES,” Preston said. “Nobody thinks of civil engineering until something stops working.”