445th CES: Maintaining infrastructure in any environment

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joel Mccullough
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 445th Civil Engineer Squadron’s mission statement is to provide ready engineers anywhere, anytime. Their mission vision statement reads, “Ready to assure combat airpower by delivering and sustaining reliable infrastructure at any time in any environment.”

The 445th CES is made up of 135 Airmen, 103 of which are under the operations umbrella.

The 445th CE enterprise consists of 11 different Air Force Specialty Codes that include: electrical systems; electric power production; heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration; pavements and construction equipment; structural; water and fuels system maintenance; pest management; engineering assistants; operations management; fire protection; and emergency management.

The squadron is a total package that ensures a mission’s capability to an airfield.

“Launching and recovering airplanes is our primary job,” said Maj. Jeff Sweet, 445th CES operations chief. “We are here to ensure that the right infrastructure is there to support and sustain that operation as long as the Air Force requires.”

Sweet said that in a deployed location, they are usually the first and last stops. He said before an airfield becomes an airfield there must be someone who creates that atmosphere.

Although the 445th is not a Red Horse designated unit, they do augment Red Horse units when they deploy. Red Horse provides the initial operating capability for airfields and to land and recover aircraft.

Downrange, CE Airmen also set up latrines, barracks and expeditionary kitchens while providing and sustaining power to those facilities.

What gets a unit ready for deployment is training. Senior Airman Johnny York is in the 445th CES water fuel system and maintenance section where he said they take care of anything that deals with water distribution, filtration or purification, as well as fuel storage, hydrants and fuel distribution to planes.

“Any chance we get, we try to get out and get hands-on,” York said, regarding training. “We need to be ready Airmen who can deploy at any moment.”

Sweet added that recently CE received some big updates to their Career Field Education Training Plans. He said that in the last two years, all their Air Force Specialty Codes have received revised CFETPs.

“That changed a lot of training statuses to red,” Sweet said. “We have been working hard to backfill that training.”

Sweet said a major advantage the 445th has is its location, because the Air Force Institute of Technology’s CE course is also located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

He said that is where a lot of upgrade training, in the form of competency-based items, is taught and learned.

Another component to training is annual training opportunities. The 445th engages with active-duty components frequently.

Sweet explained that they like to find different active-duty units to augment for annual tour.

They also engage with the local 88th Air Base Wing CES to process work orders and other activities.

Additionally, the unit holds a large four-day site detail training event every year at the Warfighter Training Center.

During the training, they take heavy equipment operators, as well as some raw materials, to perform pavement, asphalt and gravel construction.

They set up a “tent city” and provide power distribution including secondary and primary distribution to HVAC.

“We basically exercise the operational capability of providing bedding space for Airman in whatever environment we would be asked to deploy to,” Sweet added.

“I think progressively as a unit we have gotten a lot better at getting hands-on,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Wood, 445th CES structural journeyman. “With our career field obviously hands-on is where it’s at. In this job you have to be able to go out and perform the job and duties.”

Wood, who has worked in the unit since 2014, said he deployed last year and the tasks he was able to accomplish while downrange really helped him gain confidence in his skills.

Over his years with the unit Wood added they continue to make improvements.

“Regardless of what we have on hand or what the mission is, we get the job done,” Wood explained.