Training Day: 934th Civil Engineering Squadron performs deployment drill

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Matthew Reisdorf
  • 934th Public Affairs Office

Trudging through three feet of snow and being covered in sweat, while trying to understand the finer points of land navigation is a tough day at work for pretty much anyone. That's what the 934th Civil Engineering Squadron Airmen did here on April 2, 2023, during a flyaway mission.

“The main idea for this exercise is to get us prepared for the real deployment,” said Staff Sgt. Danil Burlacu, a 934 CES engineering technician. “This is kind of a very short exercise where we flew to an unknown location. We are usually the first people to prepare the base and lodging for troops.”

The angst of being unprepared for a deployment location can be unbearable. That’s exactly where people like Burlacu come in to make the transition seamless.“We’re the first ones to lay the tents, beds and all the design for a base,” Burlacu said. “We have no idea where we’re going, we have no idea. In general, it is just getting our team ready and prepared for combat or actual action.”

This was exactly the kind of scenario that Capt. Elizabeth Koch, the 934 CES Operations Flight officer in charge, was hoping to emulate.

“We wanted to employ an agile combat system to meet the [934th Airlift Wing’s] objectives to have everyone ready to deploy at a moment's notice,” Koch said. “This exercise came about as a way to accomplish this.”

One of the day’s tasks for the 934 CES was participating in a land navigation exercise. This was meant to brush the airmen up on their deploying skills. 

 “We don’t have a lot of training either with weapons or getting used to carrying our own gear through three feet of snow,” Koch said. “It’s not something that we’re used to either. Preparing for any potential war that we might have that’s outside of our comfort zone. We’re used to being in the Middle East for so long, it’s good to get people out of what they’re used to.”

Being ready for deployment, or even larger scale field exercises, is critically vital to having a ready force that is willing and strong. Smaller-scale exercises, such as the one-day flyaway mission that the 934 CES conducted, is the perfect way to test deployment efficiency.

The exercise could be looked at as a sort of beta test for future larger-scale operations, Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Heiman, the 934th CES Engineering Section Superintendent.

“Going through the processes of deploying our Airmen, quickly and efficiently, is necessary,” Heiman said. “Such things as the logistics of weapon checkouts need to be tested. It’s all about doing these things in a way that’s maintainable. The convenience of Camp Ripley is that it’s close.” 

Like Heiman, Koch believes that readiness is the key to having a ready fighting force.

“We have a fully written plan of where we’re going when we’re going,” Koch said. “We have all our gear ready to go. Our objective is open-ended. I’m not going to tell you what you need to bring.”

Koch believes that the key to readiness has independent troops. She wants her airmen to have the ability to think on their feet.

 “I want our people to think about things and actually come to a decision instead of having everything spoon fed to them,” she said. “I want them to have the ability to do that because in a real deployed environment, you may not have that luxury.”