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Kentucky Civil Engineers support largest Silver Flag exercise

Troops from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron join with other Airmen to anchor a Mobile Aircraft Arresting System at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., on Sept 16, 2013. The Kentucky Air Guardsmen were participating in Silver Flag, a week-long exercise to train and test the skills of civil engineers at a bare-base location in a simulated wartime environment. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Dave Soldat)

Troops from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron join with other Airmen to anchor a Mobile Aircraft Arresting System at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., on Sept 16, 2013. The Kentucky Air Guardsmen were participating in Silver Flag, a week-long exercise to train and test the skills of civil engineers at a bare-base location in a simulated wartime environment. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Dave Soldat)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Twenty-six Airmen from the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron deployed to Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Sept. 13 to 21 to test their skills in a simulated combat environment while operating from a bare-base location.

The exercise, known as Silver Flag, was the largest of its kind to date, drawing together more than 245 active-duty Air Force and Reserve Component Airmen, according to Lt. Col. Keith McCallie, the 123rd's deputy base civil engineer and Silver Flag student commander.

"This was an extremely worthwhile learning experience given the level of Total Force integration -- the first that I've ever seen at Silver Flag," McCallie said.

Silver Flag is a regular training event for all civil engineering personnel, covering command and control, and specialized craftsmen training.

The exercise is mandatory for civil engineers every 40 months, McCallie explained. It challenges each craft area to perform a war-time mission tasking.

Evaluated disciplines include emergency management, utilities, structures, heating ventilation and air conditioning, heavy equipment, electrical, power protection, site development, CE operations, and fire protection.

The 123rd's Command and Control Element also participated.

Tasks that had to be executed during the "war" included water purification, bare-base site layout, erection of a tent city, set-up of electrical generators and power distribution, airfield lighting operations, rapid runway repair, and installation of a mobile aircraft arresting system.

The Airmen also showed that they could pre-stage vehicles, perform precision convoy operations and defend assets by stopping simulated host-nation saboteurs from disrupting power distribution.

An additional benefit of the exercise is the opportunity it provides many Airmen to use specialized equipment they don't have back home, McCallie said. It also serves as a test bed for new and improved equipment coming into the Air Force.

For example, a new power-distribution system was being field-tested in September which consisted of digital components designed to replace less reliable analog systems.

"This gives the Airmen a look at new cutting-edge technology, which is a benefit to the troops, and it gives the command element exposure to new technology," McCallie said.

During the exercise, the cadre commented on the positive attitudes of everyone, McCallie noted. They also praised the integration of the active-duty Air Force, Reserve and Guard personnel.

"Everyone meshed very well -- no fights or feuding between the components -- and it was eye-opening to see how everyone was so enthusiastic," he said.

"Everyone embraced this training with enthusiasm and the go-get attitude."