554th RED HORSE leaves Eielson better than before

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla
  • 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Within the Air Force civil engineering community RED HORSE Squadrons are considered elite teams. They are focused, efficient, highly-skilled, and they wear cool red hats.

Specializing in large-scale projects such as runways, aprons, facilities and utilities, the 554th Rapid Engineering Deployable Heavy Operations Repair Squadron Engineer, or RED HORSE, Squadron was called upon by the 354th Security Forces Squadron to build a new isolation area for the military working dog kennels.

“The purpose of the isolation area is to give dogs with medical issues or who may have contracted a disease the space to rehabilitate and heal away from the other dogs,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Justin Ridenour, the 354th SFS Military Working Dog kennel master.

Without the proper facility, the unit runs the risk of exposing other dogs to the same health problems, potentially compromising their mission.

Building the new facility, which is connected to the existing structure, would have cost the Air Force more than $2 million if outsourced to a civilian contractor. Enlisting the help of the RED HORSE squadron cut costs and project timelines significantly.

“Our unit functions as a fully self-sufficient team charged with executing projects from start to finish,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Zachary Spranger, the 554th RHS project engineer. “That includes everything from researching the customer’s needs, building a plan to meet those needs, procuring materials and, of course, the execution.”

According to Spranger, RED HORSE squadrons typically have Airmen from force support, logistics, security forces, contracting and numerous civil engineering specialties which enables them to be completely self-contained, work quicker and go into contested areas where civilian contractors would not go.

Operating at a level expected of RED HORSE technicians requires consistent training to keep their skills sharp. Based at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam the team immediately faced new challenges working in Alaska for the first time.

“This was the first project our unit has ever done in Alaska. Building in an Arctic region is substantially different than building anywhere else in the world. There are significant changes in design parameters when temperatures reach -40 degrees Fahrenheit,” he said. “Starting from the ground up this facility was designed to withstand those freezing temperatures, and since this is the first project we have had to do, there was a lot of learning on the planning, designing and construction processes for this facility.”

After just 105 days in Alaska the team will wrap up the project, pack up and head home leaving Eielson a little bit better than when they arrived.