Rapid Airfield Damage Recovery comes to MG21

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kentavist Brackin, 89th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

ALPENA, Mich. -- “Team One!” shouts Danni Manyweathers, an expeditionary operations analyst for the Readiness Division under the Air Force Civil Engineering Center’s Modernization Section. “The excavator has engine problems and will be out for the duration … the bucket has stopped working.”

Manyweathers’ words immediately trigger the team of Air Force personnel to check their equipment, personnel and vehicles, confirming they had a spare before turning the broken excavator over to her.

The broken excavator, or rather the barely inch-long red plastic model of one, is then removed from the tabletop exercise.

The owners of the model excavator are one of three teams of Civil Engineers participating in a day-long Expeditionary Engineering Modernization Training at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center May 22, 2021.

The training was held four separate times and included participation from CE officers and enlisted of all ranks during Exercise Mobility Guardian 2021.

“This is an opportunity to sit down with the CE people here and let them know that while Mobility Guardian is moving logistics around, if the airfield’s not open and operating, they won’t be able to do that,” said Manyweathers, a 25-year veteran of Air Force civil engineering. “You have to have an operational airfield to actually do Mobility Guardian. CE Airmen here don't have a lot of those moving parts in the exercise, so this training helps them see the bigger picture as far as how the airfield is a weapons platform.”

The training was broken into two parts with the first being a Rapid Airfield Deployment Recovery (RADR) mission overview to familiarize CE Airmen with new processes and equipment.

“Our old process hasn't gone away, but I wanted to communicate that there's a new process, this is how we do it and there's a lot more to it than the old way,” she said.

The old way addressed how to repair up to a dozen, approximately 50-foot-wide craters and was primarily centered on CE Airmen who work in pavement and equipment shops: the Dirt Boyz.

Modern adversarial weapons cause more than a dozen of smaller-scale craters, covering airfields with explosive ordnance damage. The new RADR process addresses this damage, requiring the skills of all components of CE.

“There's a new threat, and the way that these munitions work will be a lot of smaller [unexploded ordnance] that cover our airfields,” she said.

For the second and final part of the training, CE Airmen participated in a tabletop exercise. Divided into several teams of three to five personnel, the Airmen received areas of responsibility on a 20-foot flight line map, along with plastic figures of resources, people and equipment.

Teams that ran out of specified resources solicited other teams or evaluated their current inventory for alternate resources to fulfil the scenario mission.

Individual teams, and sometimes the entire group, responded to callouts that either advanced their flight line ops, temporarily froze a resource for a set amount of time or completely removed a resource from the exercise.

“The biggest thing that stood out to me about this training were the challenges we faced trying to be the ones that made the decisions on when things get done and running into scenarios where we had to figure how to make things happen even with less -- do less with more,” said Senior Airman Levar Sealey, a water and fuel systems journeyman assigned to the 436th CE Squadron. “It was actually a really good experience for us to see how leadership wants things broken down, the importance of separating different tasks and the need for tasks to be done in a certain time.”

The exercise was described as an extreme combination of "Monopoly and Bingo on steroids" with Manyweathers serving as the bingo caller.

“I don't believe innovation starts at a certain rank or age. I think if they understand processes and if they have a viewpoint of them [from a leadership perspective] that maybe they can help feed information back into the system to improve it,” Manyweathers said. “You never know what somebody brings to the table until you give them a chance to understand what you're doing.”