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Master Sgt. Denver Long, noncommissioned officer in charge of the 442nd Civil Engineers Structures Shop, aims at his target during M-4 qualification, June 3. Sergeant Long is scheduled to deploy August 2011 with approximately 35 other CES reservists. The 442nd CES is part of the 442nd Fighter Wing, an A-10 Thunderbolt II Air Force Reserve unit at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. Kent Kagarise)
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Downrange, up to speed

Posted 7/22/2011   Updated 7/23/2011 Email story   Print story


by SrA Wesley Wright
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

7/22/2011 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Approximately 35 reservists from the 442nd Civil Engineers Squadron are scheduled to deploy to Southwest Asia in August.

The Citizen Airmen will support U.S. Army and coalition forward operations.

Lt. Col. Mark Davison, commander of the 442nd CES, and Senior Master Sgt. Nathan Hooton, 442nd CES operations superintendent, are preparing their unit for its first mobilization.

"I've been here 12 years," Sergeant Hooton said, "and this is the first mobilization ever for this unit. Our primary mission here at the 442nd CES is to prepare for deployment."

The squadron does not have a stateside base-sustainment mission filling local work orders like its active-duty counterpart here, he added.

Usually, the 442nd CES deploys and accomplishes their mission at overseas installations. The upcoming mission is new to the squadron because the 442nd will be operating in forward locations.

"This is absolutely not a traditional CE deployment where you go to a base and maintain facilities," Colonel Davison said. "This is the first time we've had such a critical tasking of going outside the wire."

Sergeant Hooton said this mission would be new for the squadron.

"On this mission we are starting to do some specialized things," Sergeant Hooton said. "Now we're going out to other people and fixing things outside of a base. The requirements are the same, but how we're doing the job and how we are implementing and utilizing those skills is a little more different than it's ever been."

Colonel Davison agreed.

"I've told the guys, this is pretty much going to be the peak opportunity of your career to use your skills," he said. "There will be no other time in your career when you use more of your skills and tactics than on this deployment."

Before deploying to Southwest Asia, the deploying reservists will first attend combat skills training at Fort Bliss, Texas.

"We will be going for several weeks of training," Sergeant Hooton said. "This is deployment-specific training for the mission we are about to perform."

Colonel Davison said the squadron is supporting the Army on this deployment.

"CST is meant to get us in line with Army tactics," he said. "We need to work closely with them in this training."

Three other CE units from across the United States will be integrating with the 442nd at CST.

"A key element of the combat skills training we will be going through is to meld together as one cohesive unit," Colonel Davison said, "In order to function properly in a wartime environment, it would be beneficial to get to know the habits and skills of the people before you get (there.)"

Preparing for a deployment of this nature does not happen overnight, Sergeant Hooton said.

The 442nd CES was notified of the deployment almost a year ago, and since then the unit has been preparing almost daily for not only the deployment, but also the operational readiness inspection in August.

With the ORI next month, the 442nd CES has found itself preparing for two deployments: one actual and one simulated.

"To juggle deploying as many people as we are and also getting people ready for the ORI and the unit compliance inspection down the road," Colonel Davison said, "it's been very challenging and very demanding, especially on Sergeant Hooton and his (air-reserve-technician) team here."

Sergeant Hooton agreed.

"In the past several months," Sergeant Hooton said, "we have simultaneously trained real-world deploying reservists and ORI-simulated deploying reservists. Some of the requirements are the same, but everything we are simulating for the ORI, we are doing for the people going on actual deployments."

Recently, members of the 442nd CES were issued most of their equipment, most of which the unit inventoried and stored for transport.

"There are a lot of gear requirements," Colonel Davison said. "You'd never imagine the amount of equipment you need issued to you for this type of environment."

Colonel Davison said the varied temperature of the deployment site necessitates specialized equipment.

"You have to take cold-weather boots. You have to take hot-weather boots. It takes up a lot of room," he said. "You have personal protective gear; it's just a lot of equipment, especially when you're trying to handle weapons."

All of this equipment serves a purpose due to the unique forward operating locations of the mission.

Sergeant Hooton says he is excited about the deployment.

"An exciting part about this deployment is we are taking some of our brightest and sharpest people. I'm excited to see what we do, because I know we're capable of some pretty awesome stuff," Sergeant Hooton said.

The reservists will be deployed for approximately six months.

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