USAF, British Army engineers dig dirt, develop interoperability

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. William Baynard, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and equipment supervisor, breaks up a concrete apron using a British Army excavator at Rock Barracks, Woodbridge, England, Jan. 25, 2018. The excavator followed the jack hammer – used to initially break up the concrete – and ripped up chunks of it to be hauled away. Using the equipment gave the 100th CES Airmen valuable “stick time,” which they are not easily able to get as there are no excavators at RAF Mildenhall. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. William Baynard, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and equipment supervisor, breaks up a concrete apron using a British Army excavator at Rock Barracks, Woodbridge, England, Jan. 25, 2018. The excavator followed the jack hammer – used to initially break up the concrete – and ripped up chunks of it to be hauled away. Using the equipment gave the 100th CES Airmen valuable “stick time,” which they are not easily able to get as there are no excavators at RAF Mildenhall. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. William Baynard, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and equipment supervisor, operates an excavator and loads a dump truck driven by a British Army Soldier from the 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment, as U.S. Airman 1st Class Brandon Monroe, 100th CES pavement and equipment apprentice, directs the truck into position at Rock Barracks, Woodbridge, England, Jan. 25, 2018. American dump trucks from RAF Mildenhall, and British excavators and loaders were used by the allied forces to remove concrete and asphalt in preparation for the building of a training area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. William Baynard, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and equipment supervisor, operates an excavator and loads a dump truck driven by a British Army Soldier from the 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment, as U.S. Airman 1st Class Brandon Monroe, 100th CES pavement and equipment apprentice, directs the truck into position at Rock Barracks, Woodbridge, England, Jan. 25, 2018. American dump trucks from RAF Mildenhall, and British excavators and loaders were used by the allied forces to remove concrete and asphalt in preparation for the building of a training area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Tyler Alfred, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and equipment apprentice, operates a British Army front end loader, as he empties broken concrete onto a stockpile at Rock Barracks, Woodbridge, England, Jan. 25, 2018. U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 100th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and equipment flight spent a week working alongside British Army engineers from the 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment, training their NATO partners in airfield damage repair. The Airmen and soldiers each had the opportunity to use each other’s heavy equipment and working practices. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Tyler Alfred, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and equipment apprentice, operates a British Army front end loader, as he empties broken concrete onto a stockpile at Rock Barracks, Woodbridge, England, Jan. 25, 2018. U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 100th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and equipment flight spent a week working alongside British Army engineers from the 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment, training their NATO partners in airfield damage repair. The Airmen and soldiers each had the opportunity to use each other’s heavy equipment and working practices. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

A British Army excavator removes a slab of concrete that was broken up from a demolished pad on a disused airfield at Rock Barracks, Woodbridge, England, Jan. 25, 2018. U.S. Airmen from the 100th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and equipment flight spent a week working alongside British Army engineers from the 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment, training their NATO partners in airfield damage repair. The Airmen and soldiers each had the opportunity to use each other’s heavy equipment and working practices. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

A British Army excavator removes a slab of concrete that was broken up from a demolished pad on a disused airfield at Rock Barracks, Woodbridge, England, Jan. 25, 2018. U.S. Airmen from the 100th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and equipment flight spent a week working alongside British Army engineers from the 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment, training their NATO partners in airfield damage repair. The Airmen and soldiers each had the opportunity to use each other’s heavy equipment and working practices. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. William Baynard, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and equipment supervisor, drives an excavator used by the British Army at Rock Barracks, Woodbridge, England, Jan. 25, 2018. The excavator followed the jack hammer – used to initially break up the concrete – and rip up chunks of it to be hauled away. Using the equipment gave the 100th CES Airmen valuable “stick time,” which they are not easily able to get as there are no excavators at RAF Mildenhall. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. William Baynard, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and equipment supervisor, drives an excavator used by the British Army at Rock Barracks, Woodbridge, England, Jan. 25, 2018. The excavator followed the jack hammer – used to initially break up the concrete – and rip up chunks of it to be hauled away. Using the equipment gave the 100th CES Airmen valuable “stick time,” which they are not easily able to get as there are no excavators at RAF Mildenhall. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

MOD WOODBRIDGE, England -- Three Airmen from the 100th Civil Engineer Squadron pavement and equipment flight joined forces with British Army airborne engineers for a week of airfield damage repair training at Rock Barracks, Woodbridge, Jan. 22 - 26, 2018.

The British Army soldiers from the 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment, based at Rock Barracks, had their light-wheel tractors and excavators, while the 100th CES Airmen brought large American dump trucks, and each familiarized themselves with the others’ heavy equipment and working practices.

Together they worked to demolish a 1,000-foot road and eight concrete pads from an apron on the disused flightline in preparation for an airfield damage repair training area.

The training provided an opportunity for both Airmen and Soldiers to acquire valuable “stick time” on the British and American equipment and build further relationships between the two allies.

“If we were ever in the situation where we had to be able to repair an airfield, we’ll now have the proper training and skills to know how to repair it without any problems, and get the job done efficiently,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Tyler Alfred, 100th CES pavements and equipment apprentice.

“Having these skills will significantly help us when in a deployed environment, but they are also useful to us at RAF Mildenhall. If we have slabs of concrete or asphalt that need to be cleared out, we’ll know how to do that in the proper and most efficient way possible,” Alfred explained. “I got a lot of hands-on experience and feel like I’m significantly better now at operating the clamshell [on the front end loader] and the other pieces of equipment than I was when I started this week.”

Rock Barracks provided the ideal training environment because of its sheer size and the fact that 23 Para Engr Regt, part of the 16 Air Assault Brigade – the British Army’s rapid reaction force – are based there and use it as their day-to-day equipment training site. The concrete apron and asphalt road were being cleared to make way for an airfield damage repair training area for future use by both British and American forces.

“It’s good to be working with our American counterparts because we can see how each other operates and this is a chance to learn from one another, to do things better in the future,” said Sapper Ty Taylor, 61 Field Support Squadron plant operator, Rock Barracks, MoD Woodbridge. “Training together like this builds a better bond between our two nations and shows we are capable of working with one another.”

Between them, the joint forces removed and accumulated approximately 1,000 tons of concrete and asphalt. Another joint training venture is planned for May 2018, when the rubble and debris will be put into a rock crusher to make sand, gravel and other materials, which can then be reused.

Training on airfield damage repair is vital for soldiers from the 23 Para Engr Regt. Upon seizure of an airfield, they conduct rapid repairs to runways, including removing obstructions and filling in craters, after which more military and equipment can be brought in. The 100th CES Airmen’s role is to maintain the runways long-term.

“Our goal at MoD Woodbridge was to increase our joint interoperability as far as equipment and skill sets,” said Maj. Daniel Weeks, 100th CES Operations flight commander, explaining that this training benefits NATO in possible future conflicts. “There’s a chance that the 23 Para Engr Regt could be jumping into an airfield and getting it started for us, and we could be the ones coming in behind them and operating the airfield later on.”