134th CES Conducts Training in Latvia

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Ben Mellon
  • 134th Air Refueling Wing

Airmen from the 134th Civil Engineer Squadron traveled to Latvia for their annual deployment for training here, May 4-19.

 Each year the 134th CES participates in an annual DFT to help keep skills sharp and to train new Airmen joining the ranks.

“Every civil engineer squadron has to take all of their crafts or as many as possible from plumbing to electrical, and from engineering assistants to the officer corps on a deployment for training to actually enact their AFSC,” said Senior Master Sgt. Kim Bowers, 134th CES Superintendent. “We do all the academics, prelims and safeties at home station and then on a yearly basis we take a DFT to execute that training.”

This year the 134th CES traveled to Camp Adazi, Latvia to assist with a multi-rotation construction project.

“This trip to Latvia is part of our two week DFT,” said Lt. Col. Brian Austin 134th CES Commander. “It’s a time to get away from the normal drill weekend and do a lot of AFSC training and also outside of our AFSC training with other members in civil engineering.”

Due to some unforeseen issues the project that the group was scheduled to work on was pushed back on the timeline, which changed the scope of work when they arrived.

“Just like any construction project, not everything is going to go as planned and that’s why we have learned to adapt and overcome,” said Austin. “Part of that was some of the initial drawings and permits weren’t signed off, which put the first rotation behind. We thought we would be putting up walls right now, but instead we are doing the foundation work for the buildings, but that’s just how CE operates. We hit the ground running and make the best of every situation.”

The DFT environment lends a unique opportunity for not only training on AFSC duties, but an opportunity to grow as a team and as a unit. Airmen had the opportunity to spend some time together sight-seeing and experiencing a different culture together.

“The DFT environment allows Airmen to work with other Airmen they may not get to work with and that builds relationships,” said Austin. “That’s one of the biggest things about a DFT. It builds relationships. So, five, 10, even 20 years down the road folks can look back and recall fond memories.”

These types of projects are more than just an opportunity to visit and train in foreign countries. Through the State Partnership Program, initiated (over 20 years ago) by Department of Defense to successfully build relationships between the United States and our allies, projects like these are a mutual benefit to both countries involved.

“I hope this will affect our relationship in a positive way,” said Austin. “I know that NGB has had DFT’s here before. Latvia is Michigan’s state partner. I think it will open the door for more United States involvement here, not only in construction, but in some other NATO exercises as a way to show support for this Baltic region.”

During the DFT 134th CES Airmen worked alongside active duty Airmen, which allowed them the opportunity to showcase their abilities to their active duty counterparts.

“Total force, the Air National Guard and especially the Tennessee Air National Guard are right there in line with our active duty counterparts,” said Austin. “We are able to do the job. We have to maintain the same level of training they do on limited days and this DFT allows us to not only get additional training, but also to showcase our skills alongside active duty”.