New England civil engineers strengthen expeditionary skills during Prime BEEF Field Training Exercise

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Julia Ahaesy
  • 102nd Intelligence Wing

Air National Guardsmen from five civil engineer squadrons across New England participated in the 2024 Region One Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force (BEEF) Field Training Exercise (FTX) on Fort Devens, Massachusetts, May 11-17, 2024.

The exercise prepared engineers for the potential demands of the Agile Combat Employment environment. Participants strengthened their expeditionary and leadership skills while overcoming the challenges of stress and fatigue within unfamiliar and strenuous combat situations.

“This event, to the best of my knowledge, is the largest and most complex regional combat skills event organically put on in the Air National Guard engineer enterprise,” said Master Sgt. Gregory Lewis, Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force Manager, 157th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES). “It is the first time the majority of New England CE units have collaborated at this scale, and it’s the first event that places Region One Engineers in a fully immersive simulated deployed environment.”

Over 180 Airmen from Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire, divided into four troop construction flights, demonstrated proficiency in basic expeditionary skills, ground combat skills, combat vehicle operations, land navigation and integrated base defense. The performance of each Airman was evaluated and graded to ensure the members of each flight were mission-ready and well-equipped for the challenges that may be presented by a near-peer adversary.

Teamwork, cooperation and cohesion were the top priorities in the evaluation process.

“The ultimate goal is to advance the development of strong engineers and leaders who are prepared for any environment, any place, any time,” said Lewis. “We hope to instill and fine-tune three basic concepts that will benefit all aspects of the engineering mission set; teamwork, communication and leadership.”

Because civil engineers often provide support in defending an installation, these skills are critical to establish, operate and maintain contingency airbases when integrating with security forces units.

“CE likes to pride themselves on being ‘first in and last out,’” said Senior Master Sgt. Calvin Melvin, Senior Enlisted Leader, 102nd CES. “Civil Engineers may need to operate independently or in small teams with limited support. The type of combat skills training they are receiving will help them be more self-reliant and capable of operating in hostile environments without relying solely on security forces for protection.”

Participants traveled to Fort Devens from five civil engineer units throughout the Northeast, including 101st CES, Maine Air National Guard; 102nd CES, Massachusetts Air National Guard, 103rd CES, Connecticut Air National Guard; 143rd CES, Rhode Island Air National Guard; and 157th CES, New Hampshire National Guard. Members of the 102nd Logistics Readiness Squadron and 157th Logistics Readiness Squadron joined, as well.

As the scenarios concluded, the teams of engineers and leadership said the exercise fortified their teamwork, their combat skills and their readiness.

“Our members received very valuable and practical training. We were able to complete 30 training tasks over the week and the skills they received this week have greatly increased our readiness for deployments,” said Melvin. “I am very impressed with how the training was performed and even more impressed by how the members responded. They had long hard days, but they stayed motivated and kept positive attitudes.”