BASA AIR BASE, Philippines (AFNS) --
Airmen from the 819th RED HORSE Squadron out of Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, traveled to the Philippines to work alongside their Philippine Air Force counterparts in a field training event, Jan. 23 through Feb. 3.
RED HORSE stands for Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer. The training event allowed both units to exchange knowledge and best practices on pouring a concrete pad, which will be used as a future training site for airfield damage repair, or ADR.
“We were able to work together as a bi-lateral team to train on these capabilities for future ADR exercises and open up more doors in the future for the Indo-Pacific as a whole,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. James Hammons, 819th RED HORSE Squadron job site officer in charge. “Building partnerships is incredibly important, especially in this region. The PAF works very hard, so it was remarkable to be part of the team over the last couple weeks and see us all turn out a really great product.”
This event was one of many that took place in the Philippines over the course of two weeks, to include subject matter expert exchanges on maintenance, hot pit refueling, airfield damage repair and logistics.
“The U.S. Air Force team is easy to socialize with and very open in learning,” said Philippine Air Force 2nd Lt. Peter Daryl Isnit, job site officer in charge for the PAF. “This is why personnel from our team took the pleasure in teaching them. We tried to work alongside every member of each team using the buddy system in groups to explain and share our way of construction. Through this, we had the opportunity to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of our methods and compare and adjust processes as a team. We also got to know what life is [like] on the other side of the world and share with them how good our food is and about the people in our country.”
The two teams poured roughly 220 cubic yards of concrete over the course of their time together, learning how each crew operates and improving procedures a little at a time.
“As a whole, the process over the last few days has gotten much better and quicker,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kyle Gibson, 819th RED HORSE Squadron job site NCO in charge. “We learned how they wanted things done so the setup kept getting quicker, expediting the process. By the end of our time, we were working seamlessly as a whole, integrated team.”
Events like this showcase the U.S. Air Force’s commitment to improving the defensive capabilities of its allies and partners, and international Airmen are the backbone of those military-to-military partnerships.
While the Airmen from the 819th were in the Philippines to pour concrete, they learned much more from their counterparts on and off the job. They shared special moments with each other, including promotions, birthdays, culture, cuisine, and language.
“This was much more than a job,” said Gibson at a dinner, celebrating finishing the mission. “This was building a brotherhood. The Philippine Airmen took us in and taught us so much about their culture. We will be forever grateful for this entire experience. It’s one that I don’t think any one of us will ever forget.”