AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates --
The 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineer Group provides theater-wide, in- and outside-the-wire, and over-the-horizon engineering technical services, light and heavy troop labor construction, and repairs within the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility in order to engineer combat power and establish and sustain combat platforms for USCENTCOM and other joint forces.
Within the 1st CEG are the 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force and the 557th Expeditionary Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron, both sister tenants consisting of two separate construction teams with separate projects at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.
REDHORSE is a self-sustaining, mobile, heavy construction squadron, capable of rapid response and independent operations in remote, high-threat environments worldwide.
“We have teams all over the AOR building anything from taxiways on airfields to entire Logistics Support Areas, to digging wells to provide water for bases in austere locations,” said Capt. Jared Erickson, 557th ERHS ADAB site officer in charge.
“My team here on ADAB is almost like a miniature Mission Support Group,” added Erickson. “We have highly-skilled Vehicle Maintainers that keep our heavy equipment fleet running strong and a supply team that can acquire construction materials from around the world. We are a self-sustaining construction team that can build almost anything, anywhere.”
Two of the current projects the 557th EREDHORSE are working on is a warehouse for Airfield Damage repair equipment and a new Patriot Missile Site.
“We are building a 13,000 square foot warehouse to store and protect 19.7 million dollars' worth of Air Field Damage repair equipment,” said Erickson. “Additionally, we are in the process of finalizing the new Patriot Missile site, including 15 different projects valued at 12.8 million dollars for roads, launcher pads, sunshades, tents and an electrical distribution system.”
The REDHORSE was activated in 1966 as the Air Force’s combat construction team and the 557th ERHS carries on that legacy.
“Our red hats are part of our history and heritage dating back to the Vietnam War,” added Erickson. “REDHORSE units would always wear red hardhats on their job sites and it became a tradition to also wear a red ball cap off the job site, the rest is history.”
The 577th EPBS provides a full range of engineering support required to establish, operate, and maintain garrison and contingency air bases. The Prime BEEF Squadron began in October 1964 and the 577th EPBS was established in Sept. 2009 with the mission of carrying out installation engineer capabilities.
Prime BEEF forces maintain the necessary equipment and personnel to support bed down fire emergency services; expedient construction; explosive incident response; emergency management; chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear response; and many other specialized mission duties.
“The 577th EPBS is composed of Civil Engineering Air Force Specialty Codes, but have a separate role from base CE as we perform major construction and repair projects for AFCENT,” said Capt. Paige Blackburn, 577 EPBS officer in charge of troop construction.
Currently, they are constructing a site by building an 18-foot tall mound and foundation to support a tower.
“The foundation system is made entirely from concrete and the site will have several miles of reinforcing steel rebar,” said Blackburn. “The tower and equipment weighs more than 120,000 lbs and is attached by large anchor bolts cast into the concrete piers. The tolerance of anchor bolt placement is extremely critical to ensure the tower frame will fit perfectly.”
Projects such as this can be challenging and require the use of different techniques and skillsets to complete the task.
“Setting the anchor bolts perfectly was incredibly challenging,” added Blackburn. “To set this accurately required age-old techniques of steel tape, construction squares, basic trigonometry, true ingenuity, and nearly all the ladders on base. Thankfully, we have Master Sgt. James Morgan, a Heavy and Construction Equipment expert Guardsman with 30 years of construction experience. The project involves a 15-person construction team.”
Other completed projects include a 320 room renovation totaling $840K, a $1.4M renovation of the Oasis Dining Facility, and several waterline, sewer line, and communication duct bank construction projects.
“1 ECEG is the preferred choice for projects that require a rapid construction completion date, and is also the safer option for construction that intertwines with sensitive and valuable information,” said Blackburn.
With the EREDHORSE and Prime BEEF Squadrons providing their expertise throughout ADAB the base continues to improve for the next rotation of deployers and continuation of the mission.