As PCS season winds down, there are a lot of new faces to see and meet on Edwards, and there’s a lot for those new people to see.
A group of new commanders along with current base officials gathered at the 412th Civil Engineering Directorate building Aug. 8 for a tour of their facilities. The stop was the first in a series of Friday tours intended to introduce new commanders and deputies to each organization and give them a picture of base operations.
“If a commander has an issue out there, he knows who to turn to. If it has something to do with roads he knows to turn to CE. If he’s got a problem with a fighter jet on the maintenance side, he knows to go to that commander; so it gives the commander an overview of what each intrinsic organization on base does,” said Barry Branson, 412th Civil Engineer Directorate, Operations Division.
The CE tour started indoors with a glimpse into planning, programming and budgeting. For instance, they learned what goes into maintaining an airfield year round. Budgets and plans are required for pavement, taxiways, shoulders and ramps.
In the supervisory, control and data acquisition room, known as SCADA, the commanders saw first hand how CE monitors and maintains the HVAC systems, water levels and energy sources throughout the base from one spot. Air conditioners were a good example of how CE must sometimes find temporary and long-term solutions for the same problem. According to Branson, when an air conditioner breaks, CE may perform a ‘Band-Aid surgery.’ Meanwhile, they are conducting an engineering study to determine the best, financially sound long-term solution to the problem.
“What struck me most about the tour was the level of effort the CE team dedicates to being good stewards of base and Air Force resources,” said Lt. Col. Eric Leshinsky, 412th Mission Support Group commander. “Everyday someone is looking at better ways to source utilities, fix roads, repair buildings, save water. It’s dynamic and CE plays a big part in stretching our Air Force dollars.”
“We’re being proactive with what we do,” said Branson.
In the front parking lot, they found a bucket truck, front-end loader and a back hoe used in the electrical and pavement shops. The heavy machinery is used for tasks like maintaining power lines and controlling the population of mosquitoes to prevent West Nile Virus.
“It’s a big thing, keeping the trenches all cleaned out and the drainage ditches clean. It keeps those mosquitoes and those populations of bugs that affect the base populace down,” said Branson. “When they have their gestational periods, the less damp and moist places they have to nest, the less mosquitoes we have.”
The Edwards Fire Dept. and base Emergency Management also fall under 412th CE. A fire truck and the base Emergency Management vehicle were on display for commanders to peruse.
“We wanted to make sure those commanders understood, beyond the trenches, what’s happening. Most people only see on the surface what’s happening. It’s not magic, we have to go out there and maintain this stuff, and we do it with less people.”
CE also handles a wide variety of issues including infrastructure, energy management and finding cost savings, such as reduced water usage.
The final stop in the new commanders tour of CE was the 412th CE’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit where they were shown the Andros F-6 robot used to train Airmen along with a full bomb suit. The grand finale was watching 1.25 pounds of C-4 explode 600 feet away.
“I really enjoyed the overall tour because they’ve helped showcase some of the many professionals that operate mostly behind the scenes here to get the mission done,” said Leshinsky. “Sure, CE has some very visible teams, such as firefighters, heavy equipment, construction crews, etc., but they represent just a part of the overall CE team.”
New commanders will be visiting various groups and commands throughout the summer.