Fort Bliss, TX — Fort Bliss is one of the largest Army installations in the country and home to the 1st Armored Division. However, a large population of Guard and Reserve Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen are seen on Bliss and McGregor Range, N.M., throughout the year. Most recently, United States Air Force Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force, or Prime BEEF, Class 10 arrived at Bliss more than a month ago, completed Combat Skills Training, and have validated in support of the Army providing versatile Airmen supporting the joint fight downrange.
Class 10 arrived at Fort Bliss Jan. 12 and consists of 181 Airmen from the Total Air Force concept (active, Guard and Reserve), from 18 different civil engineer career fields. The Airmen come from 38 different units Air Force-wide to form a Prime BEEF team to deploy.
According to Air Force Pamphlet 93-12, Prime BEEF, is a program that “organizes civil engineering force teams for worldwide direct and indirect combat support roles.” These Prime BEEF teams consist of Joint Expeditionary Tasking, or JET, Airmen deploying into these JET positions, which are designated deployments under the Joint Sourcing Solution program in support of the Army.
Upon arrival, the Directorate of Mobilization and Deployment acts as the logistical life support for the Prime BEEF team providing transportation, billets, coordinating meals, and ensuring the unit receives proper equipment at the Central Issue Facility. In addition, DoMaD will ensure proper financial support is scheduled such as the issuing of Eagle Cash Cards for downrange. DoMaD remains in contact as life support for the duration of the time until the team deploys from here.
DoMaD works hand-in-hand with USAF Training Detachment 4, under the 602nd Provisional Training Group. Det. 4 is a team of six Airmen stationed at McGregor Range, N.M., under the command of Lt. Col. Doral “Ned” E. Sandlin. The detachment retains administrative control over Airmen throughout Combat Skills Training, coordinates onward movement from the mission training center into theater and coordinates the return of Army equipment issued during CST.
“Our mission is to support all the trainees and interface with the Army with all their training,” said Sandlin.
The Detachment keeps a close eye on each class and monitors their daily training. They provide administrative support for the Airmen. Currently, the detachment is projected to receive six classes with more than 1,000 students inbound in the next year.
The CST is currently scheduled for 21 days, with 16 days of training facilitated by 5th Armored Brigade. During CST, Airmen learn how to drive Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, or MRAP, vehicles, gain familiarization of weapons, learn how to defend a base, learn land navigation skills, mounted patrol, and shoot crew serve weapons to name a few.
“Air Force units come to Bliss to train because they’re taking an Army deployment to do the relief,” said Master Sgt. Jennifer J. Holton, personnel supervisor, Det. 4, 602nd Provisional Training Group, USAF. “They need to be trained and equipped just like an Army Soldier.”
Since the Airmen are deploying to support Army missions, they receive the same standard courses that Guard and Reserve Army units receive during their pre-mobilization training at McGregor Range, N.M.
“We train and provide them with the equipment they need to be successful. It’s always a great experience working with the Air Force,” said Sgt. 1st Class John D. Simmons, liaison officer assigned to 5th Armored Brigade.
“The most beneficial part of the training is the IED (improvised explosive device) lanes,” said Master Sgt. Michael E. Cherry, Heating, Ventilation, Cooling & Refrigeration noncommissioned officer in charge assigned to the 23rd Civil Engineer Squadron based out of Moody AFB. “For many of the Air Force guys, we’re not out there every day doing route clearance, so to be able to visually to see the type of situations that go on over there benefits all of us. I’m looking forward to serving on this deployment and serving the country.”
Prime BEEF Class 10 certified and completed JET CTS, Feb. 4, and departed Fort Bliss Feb. 6. They will be downrange for about six months.
“Our mission is to provide theater engineer support for the Central Command Area of Responsibility,” said Lt. Col. Michael J. Harner, commander for Class 10 and for the 577th Expeditionary Prime BEEF Squadron. Harner hopes that his team can safely accomplish the mission that the Army is asking and that all his men and women return back home at the end of the tour. “From an Air Force engineer perspective, we truly appreciate the Army support in getting us ready for our wartime mission. Engineers lead the way!” said Harner.