TYNDALL AFB, Fla. - Over two dozen members of the Massachusetts Air National Guard's 102nd Civil Engineer Squadron recently traveled to Tyndall AFB, Florida to participate in a two week training event with the 823rd Red Horse Squadron at the Silver Flag Exercise Site. The trip gave the Airmen the opportunity to hone their skills working together with active duty and reserve civil engineer units from across the country, operating in a simulated deployed environment.

"Each of us has a job when we go to a forward location... That's turning nothing into a bare base," said 102nd Civil Engineer Squadron Water and Fuels Superintendent Master Sgt. Michael Adduci.

Training at Silver Flag allows the engineers to maintain proficiencies on all of the equipment they would need to use on a deployment, and gives them the experience of living and working in similar conditions. During the first week they're given classroom instruction and are acclimated to the environment by sleeping in tents, and eating a strict diet of Meals Ready to Eat. The exercise culminated in the second week with "Operation Silver Steed", which simulated arriving on an aircraft in an overseas location named "Tango", putting their skills to the test in a hostile environment. During the operation the engineers responded to a simulated attack and performed a variety duties in Mission Oriented
Protective Posture gear.

"All the different AFSC's in CE have to come here every 48 months so that they're "war-ready", said 102nd Intelligence Wing Installation Emergency Manager Senior Master Sgt. Sarah Perry.

"When you come down here you're basically in a deployed forward environment... You begin a higher ops tempo as you continue through the exercise, and once we start game-day, the exercise day, you basically are in your war environment, with a high chemical threat, ready to face anything."

The operation required a number of war-time tasks including repairing craters using specialized equipment in the Rapid Airfield Damage Recovery process. The RADAR program was created to develop lighter, leaner equipment and materials to recover a base after an attack, and can have an airfield up and running in under eight hours after sustaining damage. Tasks performed included construction, CBRN detection, operations management, water and fuel maintenance, search and recovery, HVAC maintenance, and command and control, among others. Airmen from almost every Air Force Specialty Code in the 102nd Civil Engineer Squadron were represented at Silver Flag.

"The training's been excellent so far," said Staff Sgt. Michael Lethin.

"The big take-away is going to be our ability to interact with our active duty and reserve counterparts and guard members from other wings, and be able to fit seamlessly into a team in a deployed environment."