Senior Airman Erik Hofmeyer
SOUTHWEST ASIA – United States military operations worldwide have reaped the benefits from a highly mobile, self-sufficient civil engineer mobile force known as the “Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadrons Engineer,” or simply RED HORSE.
However, all of the accolades received and infrastructure laid to support contingency and special operations missions would not be possible without a central hub of logistical operations.
The 379th Air Expeditionary Wing is home to the 1st Expeditionary RED HORSE Group, a tenant unit serving as the logistical hub to coordinate and supply the forward deployed missions throughout the area of responsibility.
The 1st ERHG is a direct reporting unit to CENTAF and a theater asset, not under the umbrella of an Air Expeditionary Wing. RED HORSE historically operates on a “hub and spoke” concept, exercising centralized control from the hub and carrying out missions from the spoke locations. The 379th AEW hub supports eight different locations, soon to be nine, throughout the AOR, said Maj. Tim Dotson, 1st ERHG “spoke” commander here.
The number of RED HORSE personnel at the 379th AEW continually fluctuates due to changing mission requirements, but the current RED HORSE rotation in Southwest Asia is a composite of approximately 560 people representing over 50 different units. About 150 Airmen come from active duty stations, and the rest from Air National Guard units, Dotson said.
Airmen assigned to RED HORSE units execute missions, reorganize, and then go on to the next mission in theater. In addition to construction skill sets, these self-sustaining units also include medical personnel, information management, security forces, personnel, and contracting and many other areas, said Master Sgt. Ricky Dumm, 1st ERHG first sergeant.
“Currently, we have 151 ongoing projects throughout the AOR,” Dumm said.
RED HORSE units have recently completed projects that directly supported the beddown of F-15E Strike Eagles in Afghanistan and an A-10 Thunderbolt II beddown in Iraq, improving the capability to project combat air power, said Dotson.
The 1st ERHG maintains and accounts for their own vehicle fleet, receives and palletizes materials for shipment to forward deployed locations and performs many other support elements.
There are approximately 75 different types of vehicles in the fleet used for transportation and heavy construction operations to establish and repair infrastructure, said Tech. Sgt. Linroy Davis, 1st ERHG vehicle maintenance craftsman.
RED HORSE operators depend on these utility vehicles for tasks such as water-well drilling, explosive demolition, quarry operations, material testing, expedient facility erection, and concrete and asphalt paving.
Some vehicles come into the 379th AEW damaged from the field and need maintenance, and others are in for scheduled maintenance.
“Personnel in the field can repair vehicles up to a certain point, but when there are hard breaks, they send them to us,” Dumm said.
The 379th AEW is an ideal location for a base of operations due to its geographical location and proximity construction and vehicle supply vendors.
“We’re close enough to the fight to palletize and ship equipment out quickly, and all the supplies we need are available here in our host nation,” Dumm said. “We can get anything they need uprange to the nearest airfield possible.”
“That’s what makes this location so important; in Iraq and Afghanistan, they don’t have the luxury of driving out the gate and driving to a hardware store,” Dumm said.
RED HORSE units have the capability to travel into austere, high threat environments and execute missions with very little outside support using their own convoy logistic patrol teams when redeploying and moving construction equipment from mission to mission.
With RED HORSE personnel spread out in so many locations, this small group of Airmen from the 379th AEW exemplifies the RED HORSE motto of “Can do, have done, will do,” Dotson said.