AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar –
The airfield is the heart of a U.S. Air Force base, enabling Airmen and aircraft to execute the mission of delivering decisive air power, rapid strategic delivery of troops and cargo, and extending global reach through aerial refueling.
To ensure the airfield remains fully functional under any conditions, Airmen with the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron conducted Rapid Airfield Damage Recovery (RADR) training at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar from Feb. 10-12, 2020.
RADR training covers the steps necessary to rapidly repair runways and runway support structures to recover and resume operations on an airfield after an attack. RADR may be performed in nearly any environment and under any conditions.
“The U.S. Air Force has the best RADR program in the world,” said Maj. Brandon Goebel, U.S. Air Forces Central Command engineering plans and readiness chief. “We brought a mobile training team from the 435th Construction and Training Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, downrange to work with the 379 ECES and ensure they are ready to respond to real-world threats.”
The training was held over three days. The first two days took place in the classroom where instructors reviewed the core concepts of the RADR program with Airmen. On the final day, they were able to get outside and participate in a scenario modeled after a real-world attack.
Following the simulated attack, the explosive ordnance disposal team cleared the airfield of any unexploded ordnance. Once the airfield was cleared, Airmen removed debris from around the craters and began cutting through the runway tarmac, creating holes that were more easily repaired. Once the holes were cleared, Airmen filled them with flowable fill cement and topped them with quick-drying cement.
This process enables Airmen to get an airfield up and running in a matter of hours, according to Goebel.
“This training has been going very well,” said Staff Sgt. Rodney Grant, a civil engineering Airman with the 379 ECES who participated in the training. “We’ve been working through the exercise and repairing the airfield in great time. We have been improving throughout the day and getting better and faster.”
The RADR process involves multiple squadrons from around base and nearly every specialty within the civil engineering field, from explosive ordnance disposal to heavy equipment operators.
According to Goebel, the RADR process is a team effort with 379 Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron and 379 ECES Airmen completing the best RADR evolution he has seen since they started training downrange.
Due to the wide range of threats, ranging from chemical and biological threats to explosives and inclement weather, Airmen must train regularly and be prepared to effectively respond and resume operations as soon as possible, according to Staff Sgt. Matthew Adams, a contingency training instructor with 435 CTS.
“We are more comfortable with the equipment and the processes,” said Grant. “The more we train, the smoother this process runs.”
The exercise was also observed by Qatar Emiri Air Force Brig. Gen. Salah Manah Al-Jaal, commander of the AUAB QEAF Logistics Support and Maintenance Wing, along with 26 officers and engineers from the QEAF Corps of Engineers.
“Qatar is a phenomenal host nation,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Strickler, commander of the 379 ECES. “They are interested in how we recover air bases after attack and this exercise gave us an opportunity to showcase our methods and represents a step toward future interoperability.”
Combatant commanders rely on seamless airfield operations to accomplish theater objectives.
“Al Udeid’s airfield is one of the most strategically important locations in the AFCENT area of responsibility, with more than 80,000 operations annually,” said Lt. Col. Matt Robinson, commander of the 379th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron. “Resuming use of the airfield following an attack is vital to mission success and the RADR teams are critical to that effort.”
As part of CENTCOM and AFCENT, the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing delivers airpower to provide deterrence and stability throughout the AOR.
Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing website.