219th RHS conduct FTX, practice emergency response

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
The 219th RED HORSE Squadron of the Montana Air National Guard conducted a field training exercise in conjunction with their monthly drill at Malmstrom Air Force Base May 29 to June 1.

More than 100 RED HORSE Airmen honed their skills, while subject-matter experts from the 120th Airlift Wing of the MTANG, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron and 819th RED HORSE Squadron acted as convoy, self-aid and buddy care, weapons handling, airfield construction and Disaster Relief Bed-down System training instructors.

"The purpose of this training is to hone both our contingency training skills as our some of our domestic and emergency response training skills," said Lt. Col. Rusty Vaira, 219th RHS commander. "We're authorized 124 Airmen and those members range from electricians, equipment operators, HVAC and vehicle mechanics - we come with a variety of Air Force Specialty Codes and skillsets. When we deploy, we can take care of ourselves and self-generate. The training we're doing this weekend utilizes all of those capabilities."

According to Vaira, the 219th RHS is one of about 10 units in the nation with a Disaster Relief Bed-down System, or DRBD system, which means they can set up a tent city for emergency responders in the event of a stateside natural disaster.

DRBD systems have the capability to provide a basic living environment for 150 people - complete with showers, latrines, laundry, dining facility and a generator-powered water system.

The 219th RHS is one of only seven active duty, Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard RED HORSE squadrons in the Air Force. RED HORSE squadrons provide the Air Force with a highly mobile civil engineer response force to support contingency and special operations worldwide, as well as humanitarian projects.

"We deploy federally and we deploy with active-duty Airmen," Vaira said. "We run the gambit of senior Airmen with experience, all the way down to Airmen who just graduated high school. Many Airmen are from out of state and we are always looking for more to join the squadron; most are traditional Guardsmen so we've got teachers, students, some have been in for 30 years and some have been in for 30 days."

By conducting fast-paced training, the small 120-authorized personnel squadron maintains special capabilities to deploy within 24 hours of notification, as well as having skills necessary to construct and repair facilities and infrastructure and perform limited earthwork, road and airfield construction.