If you build it they will come: 823rd RHS squadron of the week
By Senior Airman Solomon Cook, 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 29, 2015
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- When Airmen are deployed to a austere location, the infrastructure needed to support them is paramount. The professionals at Tyndall who train those who make life livable for Airmen in deployed locations are those of Detachment 1, 823rd RED HORSE Squadron. This detachment is one of many stationed at various Air Combat Command bases.
After a simulated training area is deemed safe enough for entry, these Airmen put on their hardhats and go to work at the Silver Flag Exercise Site here at Tyndall.
The RED HORSE squadron's 84-person cadre provides contingency combat support training to active duty Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, Air National Guard, Army, Marine Corps and allied nations.. More than 4,500 people are trained each year at the site.
During the 7-day Silver Flag course, civil engineers, communications, force support and finance personnel learn how to build and maintain bare-base operations at a forward-deployed location. Students hone a variety of combat and survival skills, such as repairing bomb-damaged runways and setting up base facilities; fire fighters receive specific expeditionary training that supply the combatant commander with a highly trained and skilled emergency response force.
"The mission of Det. 1 823rd RHS is to provide contingency training, free from home station constraints, where Expeditionary Combat Support teams can train, interact and complete functional area contingency operations in a realistic, integrated environment for rapid deployment," said Master Sgt. Travis Weeks, Det. 1 823rd NCO in charge of the, Expeditionary Manpower Management Course. "The goal is to produce competent and confident warfighters to perform specific mission sets for the combatant commanders around the globe. The mission scope encompasses 19 Air Force Specialty Codes and supports 6,000 Total Force, Army, Marine, Navy and allied-nation students annually. This makes us the largest combat training site in Air Combat Command."
As the art of warfighting continues to evolve, so have the courses here to ensure the training and projecting of unrivalled combat airpower. Silver Flag training dates back to the 1960s, more recently, the detachment was reorganized under 823rd RHS and re-designated as Det. 1, 823rd RHS. The training site moved from Eglin AFB to Tyndall AFB in 1993.
"Initially based on lessons learned that were gathered from Desert Shield and Desert Storm, our training focused on bare base asset training," Weeks said. "Moving forward, through continued lessons learned from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom our curriculum has transformed to meet the deployment commanders needs in near real-time. This occurs in partnership with Headquarters Air Force, Air Force Civil Engineering Center, Air Force Personnel Center, Air Force Manpower Analysis Agency and Air Force Services Activity. Our training curriculum assures Major Commands that Silver Flag training continues to meet this critical need.
"Through continuous feedback provided through lessons learned and After Action Reports, environment, geo-politics and even the enemy themselves is ever-changing. This drives a need to adapt the way we perform the mission downrange. In order to prepare our Airman for change, our curriculum must adapt," Weeks added.
With the current climate of warfighting overseas, the need for Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians is something the Air Force recognizes and unique to Tyndall is the Air Force's EOD pre-deployment training.
"The Silver Flag Contingency training site is the home of Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal's Pre-Deployment Training," said Master Sgt. William Cameron, Det. 1, 823rd RHS EOD flight chief. During training EOD students perform airfield recovery scenarios and interact with other personnel. Training also consists of counter-IED operations, unidentified unexploded ordnances and aircraft incidents. The beauty of Silver Flag is we have the ability to change our scenarios based on real world events. The EOD Cadre data mines EOD operations and recreates them here on site so EOD students can run up-to-date scenarios. This ensures our EOD Airmen are ready to accomplish their mission anytime, anywhere.
"I've enjoyed my time here at the detachment," Cameron said. "There aren't very many EOD positions out there that allow an EOD technician to work with this diverse of a crowd. It has given me a greater appreciation on how the different craft's missions fit into the big picture, which has also allowed me to have a better understanding on how my mission affects theirs," Cameron added.
Although students and cadre may come and go, the 823rd RHS will continue to advance and sustain resources and infrastructure.
"We base our curriculum on real world events," Cameron said. "The cadre staff here is made up of very experienced EOD technicians. We can give advice to the students based on personal operational experience, not just technical data. We have field-tested emerging technologies and new equipment and provide critical feedback before it's sent into the field. It is an honor and great responsibility to provide the final training before our EOD Airmen go into combat. It's also very nerve-racking because you want to get it perfect and cover everything before they step into harm's way," Cameron said. "It is our mission to keep our brothers and sisters off the wall."