Team Kingsley Civil Engineers recapitalize historic facility for use in the 21st Century fight

  • Published
  • By Commentary by Maj. Joe Young
  • 173rd Civil Engineers

The 173rd Civil Engineer Flight mission-ready Airmen executed a unit-led field training exercise for the purpose of bringing a former Department of Defense facility back online for future mission readiness.

Fourteen engineers deployed to a remote tower site on the Oregon Coast constructed and once used by the U.S. Air Force Air Defense Command in the 1950’s. Like many of the ADC sites across the western U.S., this one was decommissioned, mothballed, and left for nature to reclaim. This site, though not actively used by the DoD, remained under the span of control of the Air Force and made for an ideal siting location for proposed future development.

Initial site surveys determined that the remaining facility was generally still in good condition. The site however needed some rehabilitation, such as removing nearly 40 years of brush and vegetation now covering the once booming outpost.

This field training exercise aimed to accomplish two objectives for the 173rd CEF.  The first was to practice real world examples of Bare-Base Expeditionary contingency skills not typically afforded at home-station, under an Agile Combat Employment construct.  The second objective was to perform real-world maintenance on an historic Air Force property and associated facility the wing may use in the future.

While Team Kingsley CE has only five specific career fields to pull from, most Airmen in the Flight are prior-service members and engineering professionals in their community. This on-site team represented over 16 different Air Force skill sets and a tremendous amount of additional civilian career disciplines. This team illustrated what the term Multi-Capable Airman means.

On-site personnel trained on the rapid deployment, operation, and safety of various hand tools such as chainsaws, brush trimmers, machetes, and light-duty construction equipment. By the end of the first 48 hours, the team had cleared nearly an acre-and-a-half of overgrown brush that presented a fire hazard to the facility. This was an amazing feat considering 1.5 acres is roughly 65,000 square feet, or the size of a college football field goal post to goal post. Indoors, the team removed failing partition walls, repaired exterior doors, and restored electricity to portions of the facility with circuitry dating back to the mid-sixties. In addition to field work, the team was able to document and upload various facility condition reports, inspections, and documents to USAF systems utilizing a satellite internet terminal.

The team was lean, but by employing cross-utilized skillsets, they brought a sharpened edge to Agile Combat Support. Some examples of that were practicing alternative radio communications and convoy operations with utility vehicles laden with camping gear, food supplies, and construction equipment necessary. They also used a combination of GPS and old-fashioned land navigation techniques to find the remote location not listed in a phonebook or located on any street map.

Although this was just one small unit performing at a single remote location on the West Coast, the team demonstrated what the Air Force Civil Engineers do for Resilient Forward Basing around the globe every day.  Their efforts have created a facility that is ready for operations and can quickly be reconfigured, upgraded, and modernized to meet future mission requirements.