The training focused on competencies outside engineer-specific skills, including tactical convoy operations, individual movement techniques, integrated defense and defensive fighting positions.

“We’re getting a solid understanding of what’s required of us in a combat scenario,” said Lt. Col. Jarrett Goddard, commander of the 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron. “As civil engineers, we like to hit nails with hammers and work with tools, but part of our mission set is to be proficient in combat skills and to be ready to take the fight to the enemy. It’s not something that civil engineering is known for, but it’s an absolute requirement for us.”

For tactical convoy training, the Airmen operated Humvees and responded to simulated kinetic scenarios, covering communication skills, insertion, extraction and self-aid/buddy care.

“Tactical convoy covers how to move, how to communicate, how to direct an element from point A to point B,” said Maj. Jason Selby, commander of the squadron’s operations flight. “We tied self-aid/buddy care and medical evacuation into that and how to insert into a place as well as extraction out of a place.”

For integrated defense, the Airmen practiced the construction of defensive fighting positions and individual movement techniques.

“Before we ever establish a foothold and set up a base camp, we’d of course make sure we have integrated defense, and that starts with our defensive fighting positions,” Selby said. “If we need to move in and secure something by force, that’s where individual movement techniques come in — ‘the high-crawl, low-crawl, buddy-bounding, shoot, move and communicate’ class.”

Staff Sgt. Samantha Brown, unit training manager, says the hands-on nature of the exercise made it highly valuable.

“I definitely think it’s important to experience this in person,” Brown said. “In a real-world situation, you can say, ‘Wait, I actually remember doing this; let me apply the skills I’ve practiced on.’ You could also see that teamwork was very important and imperative to accomplishing every task here.”

“Depending on where the location is, you never know what you’re going to face,” said Airman First Class Elmer Lopez-Duran, a structures specialist and newcomer to the unit. “I know I have to be skilled in my primary job, but it’s good to be well-rounded because you never know when you’re going to need it.”