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RED HORSE: Engineering the Deid

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Phil Speck
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing
The 823rd Expeditionary Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers (RED HORSE) Squadron, from Hurlburt Field, Fla., is currently deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.  

Centrally located at Al Udeid Air Base, the 557th ERHS is comprised of more than 200 of those RED HORSE Airmen, whose jobs vary from heavy equipment operators; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technicians; structures specialists; and electricians and plumbers. 

RED HORSE differs from civil engineer squadrons because they have rapid deployment capabilities, are familiar with heavy construction, and can conduct well-drilling. They also bring specific knowledge of developing pre-engineered buildings, among other capabilities. 

One of their current assignments is to build a new 9,000 square foot structure that will house the 557th ERHS vehicle maintenance, equipment and work center.

They are also building two structures for an aircraft maintenance unit here to improve B-52 Stratofortress maintainers’ work center. These structures combined are approximately 10,800 square feet and will house administration, a warehouse and a work area for the maintainers. The proximity of these buildings to the aircraft will help expedite the time it takes to them off the ground and completing missions.

According to Staff Sgt. Dennis Edick, structures craftsman assigned to the 557th ERHS, working in this deployed location presents a new set of challenges for the RED HORSE Airmen. For instance, 30 foot panels used to construct walls turn into sails in the high winds that Qatar often sees. Obtaining supplies for the new construction can also be a challenge since waiting for the arrival of ordered supplies and clearing them through customs can often take longer than expected.

“Sometimes it can take up to two weeks just to get in [flat] washers. We just can’t run down to Lowe’s and get 1,000 washers like we can back home,” Edick said.

One system the squadron is trying to obtain to help speed up projects is called FRAMECAD, which designs and can fabricate structure pieces and supplies from steel.

"The FRAMECAD system streamlines the construction process while reducing the overall cost of a facility,” said Capt. Charles Heim, AUAB site officer in charge and operations deputy officer assigned to the 557th ERHS. “The FRAMECAD F450iT machine is a cold rolled steel bending machine that bends flat steel into uniform building components that streamline the design and construction process. It is good stuff and will definitely speed up our construction timelines once the training is widespread." 

If the squadron were to obtain the FRAMECAD, it would benefit not just AUAB, but all of the AOR. Pieces needed for projects could be fabricated at a central location and shipped via military transport to other forward locations. 

Staff Sgt. Quinton McDaniel, structure craftsman assigned to the 557th ERHS, says their squadron prides themselves with a high-level of quality. 

“We’ve been doing pre-engineered buildings for quite a while now and you can see a big difference from the previous rotation,” McDaniel said. “There are a lot of little things that we put into our work to make sure our product is best of the best.”