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RED HORSE Airmen build partnerships in Singapore

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  • By Tech. Sgt. Richard P. Ebensberger

Airmen with the 554th RED HORSE Squadron from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, participated in a subject-matter expert exchange consisting of two phases with the Republic of Singapore air force Aug. 29 to Sept. 2.

The purpose of the SMEE was to share tactics and techniques on how each country would expeditiously repair an airfield after an attack and return it to service. The exchange also focused on strengthening both professional and personal partnerships to enhance interoperability.

“These exchanges are very important to the RSAF because they allow us a chance to benchmark our processes and learn and share new technologies,” said Military Expert 6 Jerediah Ong, 505th Squadron commanding officer, RSAF. “Our mission contexts are slightly different than the United States Air Force, so it’s good to see each other’s processes, so we can cross share and enhance our interoperability.”

During Phase I, members of the RSAF briefed their overall structure, including standard operating procedures for airfield damage repair, unexploded ordnance removal, portable airfield approach lighting and mobile aircraft arresting system set-up.

“One reason expedient airfield damage repair is important, is because every air force out there has a specific mission and for the United States Air Force our mission is to fly, flight, and win,” said Maj. Jarrett Gafford, 554th RED HORSE Squadron commander. “The only way we can achieve our mission is to make sure we can get aircraft off the ground, safely return them to the ground and then regenerate additional sorties. This is achieved through the airfield damage repair process.”    

During Phase II, the RSAF put on a live demonstration showing the RED HORSE Airmen firsthand how they utilize their specific equipment to repair and return the airfield to service along with the timelines currently established.

“I was really impressed with the demonstration today, their processes are very similar to the United States Air Force, but very unique to Singapore as well, they use different types of equipment and procedures that are unique to their operational environment,” Gafford said. “These types of engagements allow us to collaborate one-on-one, so that we can improve our interoperability.”

This experience allowed RED HORSE Airmen to see firsthand how the RSAF is structured and how it operates so they could better mesh into each other’s operations should they find themselves working together side by side in the future.

 The exchange also gave both countries an opportunity to discuss some of the unique environmental and equipment challenges that each other face. One of major differences is that runways at Andersen AFB are made of concrete versus runways in Singapore that are made of asphalt. Each material can present its own challenge when it comes to expedient repairs and weather conditions. This event gave both countries the opportunity to collaborate on ways to overcome them.

“We not only gain a stronger understanding in our interoperability, but it also enhances our Airmen’s capabilities by increasing job knowledge while allowing personal growth through experiences and relationships. Ultimately the Air Force gets better trained and experienced airmen that think outside the box, are well prepared to overcome adversity when issues arise, and the air force recognizes this value is seen by the promotion of our airmen conducting these exchanges. This not only increases mission capabilities but which in the end results in future promotions,” Gafford said.

These exchanges are also designed to help build bi-lateral and multi-national partnerships and enhance personal growth. On the final day of the event, then Master Sgt. Michael English, 554th RED HORSE Silver Flag flight superintendent, was promoted to Senior Master Sergeant. The impact of these partnerships was felt as he requested the RSAF to help tack on his new stripes.

“Partnerships such as this have contributed immensely to my professional growth over the years,” said English. “During my promotion today, I wanted to include our Singapore partners in the ceremony as another way to help strengthen our ties and share our traditions so that they can see and experience a part of our culture.”

“We’ve maintained a strong relationship with RSAF through multiple exercises and military exchanges and we continue to look forward to building upon that in the future. Ryunosuke Satoro once said, ‘Individually we are a drop. Together we are an Ocean’” Gafford said.

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