922nd Civil Engineer Flight, small unit, worldwide impact

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U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Jason Saberin

The 922nd Civil Engineer Squadron’s Staff Augmentation Team (S-Team) continues to proudly represent March Air Reserve Base with worldwide engineering successes. As one of three Air Force Reserve S-Teams, the 922nd provides staff augmentation to combatant commands in the form of engineering management, planning and Command and Control (C2) services. The 922 CEF is a small unit with a big mission whose reach is truly worldwide, from the most active Area of Responsibilities, such as U.S. Central Command, to engineering planning and exercise execution in Korea to its home state of California. The 922 CEF is assigned primarily to Pacific Air Forces but is active at many additional commands and regions. Assigned projects support international and local communities and help manage facility construction. This type of mission requires a unit with members versed in a diversity of capabilities and backgrounds.

Members of 922 CEF successfully concluded a multi-year U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) deployment cycle, with a total of 13 members deployed since Jan. 1, 2013. That may seem like a small number at first glance, but this amounts to approximately half of the unit. Their last member to return home, Lt. Col. Anthony Chin, contributed a great deal to the CE mission in CENTCOM. While deployed, Chin, serving as the deputy commander of the 577th Expeditionary Prime Beef Squadron, oversaw three construction teams at more than 29 locations in nine different countries. His teams completed in excess of $2.2 million in construction projects and managed an additional $2 million worth of projects awaiting construction. One of his teams, the 577th Expeditionary Prime BEEF Squadron, J2 retrograded various tension-fabric shelters throughout the Area of Operations and saved the Air Force more than $17 million in material and contract costs.

Several other recent 922 CEF deployed members contributed significantly to combat missions during the past year, one of whom is Maj. Jack Barnett. He deployed to Afghanistan and served as the construction operations lead with his Army counterparts monitoring ongoing construction projects throughout Afghanistan.

“Don’t get caught up in your own service mentality. Be open to the joint environment, sharing knowledge and culture as routinely as possible,” Barnett said, stressing the importance of working as a team with the Army.

Additionally, Capt. Justin Eise was instrumental in CENTCOM success, leading engineer forces in transforming a caretaker base to combat operations located within a coalition country’s borders.   

The 922 CEF S-Team also has significant presence in Pacific Command (PACOM).  This summer, the 922 CEF is leading collocated operating base site surveys on the Korean peninsula, while also playing important roles in the KEY RESOLVE and ULCHI FREEDOM GUARDIAN exercises.   

Currently the unit is supporting the Defense Department’s Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) program, providing technical engineering resources as well as construction management assistance to the IRT program managers and lead RED HORSE squadrons for two regional IRT projects.

The first clears decades of debris from the Santa Rosa Dam site located near Hemet, to help the tribal sponsor restore operating conditions. The second, near San Marcos, Air Force Reserve engineers are clearing the site and performing initial construction for the 20-acre Training, Education, Research and Innovation (TERI) campus of life, where the goal is to improve the quality of life for children and adults with developmental and learning disabilities such as autism.

For both projects, the 922 CEF is providing support with safety, quality and construction management plans, recurring site visits and technical engineering resources. For example, the TERI site required special attention to geotechnical and surface soil conditions, for which the S-Team helped effectively plan. 

The 922 CEF also acknowledges the importance of training with sister services such as the Army and Navy. In February, a groundbreaking training event took place when March’s S-Team hosted the Army Corps of Engineers Northwest Division Field Engineer Support Team (FEST-A). The S-Team and FEST-A conducted a four-day joint engineer training which included overviews of Army and Air Force capabilities and doctrines. Team March provided great support, including allowance to orient Army personnel to features of the active runway like runway lighting, pavements and aircraft arresting systems, as well as an outstanding overview of Bare Base Assets at the California Air National Guard Regional Training Site. The week concluded with a capstone, joint exercise where joint force engineers prepared a base for the reception of kinetic airpower and Army Stryker Brigade Combat Team missions.

The seven-hour exercise was highly realistic, testing the joint team’s ability to integrate, plan for incoming forces, develop logistics, manage construction, design new facilities and effectively develop a Reception, Staging and Onward Integration bed-down location. The exercise out brief was received by senior Army, Navy and Air Force engineers who provided superb joint perspective to the exercise participants. 

This type of cross-service integration is lauded by Air Force Reserve Civil Engineer leadership and is expected to be implemented in S-Team training Air Force wide. Additionally, the training was singled out as a superb joint engineer event to the senior DOD engineer, Army Lt. Gen. Tom Bostick.

“This was a great chance to exercise as the joint team,” said Col. John Buck, Seattle district commander and the senior Army engineer to receive the out brief.

It is important to exercise cross-service integration and training to increase synergetic capabilities, said Col. Mark Slominski, 922 CEF commander. He believes that more exercises like this need to be performed, not only with Army counterparts but, with the Navy and across government agencies as well.

“I expect our members to be accountable as ready engineers, supervisors and program managers to perform our duty in support of the military engineer mission, anytime, anywhere.”