Airmen from the 554th RED HORSE Squadron use heavy machinery to fill up Hesco barriers with dirt to create the inner structure of a safety berm to surround and protect a fuel reservoir at Camp John Pratt, Afghanistan, in October 2012. The 554 RHS is currently deployed downrange in support of U.S. Central Command’s Operation Enduring Freedom. (Courtesy photo)
Airmen from the 554th RED HORSE Squadron pose for a group photo at Camp John Pratt, Afghanistan, in October 2012. The 554th RHS Airmen have been executing a critical $31 million construction program spanning from the Middle East to Central Asia while deployed. (Courtesy photo)
by Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
36th Wing Public Affairs
1/15/2013 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Airmen from the 554th RED HORSE Squadron, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, are currently deployed downrange in support of U.S. Central Command's Operation Enduring Freedom.
Approximately two months into their deployment, the 554th RHS are executing a critical $31 million construction program spanning from the Middle East to Central Asia. Projects include a tactical operation center, command and control infrastructure, strategic airlift ramp and fuel farm, emergency airfield repairs and several other facilities delivering mission and life-support functions across the CENTCOM area of operation.
Recently, a RED HORSE construction site was visited by the CENTCOM deputy commander, Vice Adm. Robert S. Harward, the of the Army Central Command commander, Lt. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks and the Air Force Central Command deputy commander, Maj. Gen. Lori J. Robinson.
"Leadership from different levels were impressed with the Airmen's work ethic and the capability they bring to the fight," said Master Sgt. David M. Justiss, 554th RHS first sergeant. "They lauded the efforts of our Airmen, who enabled the beddown of a critical new mission capability to CENTCOM."
There are currently over 20 individual RED HORSE construction projects distributed across eight different sites throughout Southwest Asia, with majority of the projects located in Afghanistan. The Airmen have moved over 100,000 tons of dirt and performed countless maintenance actions on AFCENT's largest single-unit fleet worth $85.2 million.
"We are constantly mobilizing equipment, materials and personnel," said Senior Airman Anthony Piña, 554th RHS power product apprentice. "With the scale of the projects we are currently taking on, we have to be considerably more flexible when executing the developmental stages. Most of the challenges we face in theater are usually not a factor at home station, so we need to be more adaptive and resourceful."
For the younger Airmen, the exposure to new locations, different cultures and working with other branches of service have been a memorable learning experience.
"The experience in itself is rewarding," said Airman 1st Class Darren Sharp, 554th RHS structural apprentice. "During my time here, I have had the honors of receiving a coin from an Army Master Sergeant from the 143rd Military Police. I miss home, but I do like the constant work being done out here. There is never a dull moment."
Prior to their deployment, RED HORSE Airmen went through various training, from combat skills to framing and construction, in order to ensure that they were well equipped for the challenges that they may come across downrange.
"I feel that I was well prepared for the deployment," said Airman 1st Class Christopher Baker, 554th RHS structures apprentice. "All the training that RED HORSE provided has helped me prepare mentally and physically for the challenges we face every day."