176th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighters smoke the competition during Readiness Challenge IX

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Emily Batchelor
  • 176th Wing Public Affairs

One of 176th Wing's own 176th Civil Engineer Squadron fire truck crews was selected to represent the Air National Guard at Readiness Challenge IX.

The eight teams were organized by major commands and included Airmen from all components of the Air Force. Participants from around the globe were tasked with performing more than a dozen exercises to test the expeditionary skills and readiness to perform the base engineer mission in a contested environment.

Multi-Capable Airmen, capable of performing tasks outside their primary job specialty, were needed in almost every event. Teams performed multiple, complex tasks to include aircraft in-flight emergency, vehicle fire, fiberglass reinforced polymer matting for expedient airfield damage repair, tent and landing zone construction and aircraft arresting system setup. Joining a hybrid team of 39 Engineers from 10 civil engineer squadrons, the Alaska team consisted of Master Sgt. Michael Knecht, Staff Sgt. Ryan Pickett, Staff Sgt. Zachary Tupper-Wilson, Senior Airman Joshua Fleming, Airman Sam Neff and Airman Jody Doyon.

Readiness Challenge was established in 1986 for Air Force Civil Engineers to test their readiness to perform the full spectrum of Integrated Base Response and Recovery operations. After a 20-year pause, it’s back. This year’s competition came down to the final event to determine the winner.

“This is not the end,” said Brig. Gen. William Kale, Air Force Civil Engineer Center commander, during his closing remarks. “This is actually, the beginning. What we’re doing here today is preparing you for what you might see in the future. Readiness Challenge is the most realistic training our Airmen will get in preparation for combat operations.”

Doyon was named the Top Performer for Team ANG, and he received a coin from Kale. Knecht was recognized for his electric leadership and motivation. He was coined by Col. James Oaksford, National Guard Bureau Readiness Division chief.

Overall, the ANG took second place by a narrow margin to the engineers from Air Combat Command. 176th CES firefighters took first place in most fire and rescue exercises they competed in.