176 Civil Engineer Squadron Trains by Meeting Island Needs
By Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger, 176th Wing
/ Published March 13, 2011
SAN CLEMENTE ISLAND, Calif. -- About 30 members of the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Civil Engineer Squadron arrived March 11 at this remote island off the coast of southern California for two weeks of building, pouring, repairing and sweating.
Their mission is called a Deployment For Training, or DFT. These missions allow Air National Guard civil engineer squadron members to sharpen their construction skills and meet
real-world needs at the same time. Such training keeps airmen mission-ready in the event they are called overseas.
Previous such DFTs have found squadron members building a schoolhouse in Ecuador; raising an aircraft shelter in Israel; and upgrading roads and other infrastructure along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"The DFT program is an invaluable tool for training opportunities not available at home station," said Senior Master Sgt. Keith Wilson, the operations superintendent of the mission.
Through the DFT program, units -- like the Naval Special Warfare Group One Maritime Operations stationed out of San Clemente Island -- request assistance with civil engineering projects, from construction to wiring, plumbing and masonry.
"It's a win-win situation for us and the host," Wilson said.
Civil engineer units across the Air National Guard request a tasking to accomplish training. The National Guard Bureau then matches these units with organizations that need work. Work assignments are based on the skill levels and training needed by the guardsmen.
Staff Sgt. Abigail Olivares is excited about learning on this trip, she said. Olivares' job recently got combined with that of a similar civil engineer, and she said she wants to get this training.
These taskings are designed to exercise skills and attitudes needed in wartime deployment through real-world, peacetime requirements, according to Air National Guard guidance.
"These trips are great because not only do they train airmen, they boost morale and give great value to the United States by providing cost-effective construction services to other units," said Lt. Col. Ed Soto, the squadron's commander.