435th: Constructing, catching, training to accomplish the mission

by Senior Airman Devin M. Rumbaugh
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Deep in the woods, outside the confines of Ramstein Air Base, you may run into the 435th Construction and Training Squadron compound, where three sections train and prepare to send Airmen on missions at a moment’s notice.

The 435th CTS consists of the military construction flight, training flight and command aircraft arresting systems depot. While the flights are responsible for different missions, they work together to accomplish the 435th’s overarching mission, “To construct, catch, and train.”

“We teach Airmen from United States Air Forces in Europe, Air National Guard members and members of NATO partner nations,” said Tech. Sgt. Daren Lazo, 435th CTS training flight heating, ventilation and air conditioning noncommissioned officer in charge. “Our mission is to conduct silver flag courses and mission-essential training courses.”

The Silver Flag training course is 10 days of job-specific training for 16 specialties.

“We teach civil engineer personnel how to build bases and teach contingency specific items for the Airman’s specific job,” Lazo said.

The training taught by the flight is not just technical but includes team building.

“Sometimes we have to help each other out to get something done,” Lazo said. “As HVAC, I can’t get my air conditioners to work without power production or the electricians. It is a collective effort to try to get the base up and operational. That’s what we hit on throughout the week of training.”

The instructors assigned to the flights are also subject matter experts when it comes to contingency planning. They are the focal point for contingency items and assistance before going up to Air Force.

The mission of the 435th CTS is unique to all installations across the Air Force. The command aircraft arresting systems depot, within the CTS fulfills the “catch” portion of the 435th’s mission statement.

“Half of our mission is the 10-year overhaul of aircraft arresting systems across USAFE, U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Air Force Central Command,” said Tech. Sgt James Dotson, NCO in charge of command aircraft arresting systems depot.

The 10-year overhaul consists of receiving aircraft arresting system equipment that is past the 10-year limit of use. The Airmen tear equipment down to every last nut and bolt, recondition reusable parts and reconstruct the systems before sending them out to the unit that originally sent it in.

“The other half is our capability to be sent to support fighter aircraft flying missions, at a moment’s notice, on any number of missions a year,” Dotson said. “We provide support across 92 countries.”

The 435th CTS command aircraft arresting system depot is the only fully military flight in the Air Force that specializes in aircraft arresting systems.

“We frequently contact the military construction flight and training flight for engineering assistance during missions,” Dotson said. “We handle our own missions, except when we need engineering assistance.”

The 435th CTS military construction flight enables units around Europe with the capability to build horizontal structures like concrete foundations and vertical structures like schools.

The MCF has approximately 20 active-duty Air Force members who span a wide range of civil-engineer-based career fields.

“As the MCF, we are the only Red Horse-type unit in Europe. We support U.S. AFRICOM, U.S. EUCOM and U.S. AFCENT when they need us,” said Tech. Sgt Eric Dickson, 435th CTS MCF electrical systems craftsman. “We also support the contingency response group and humanitarian missions.”

Although the flights don’t directly work together on missions, they support each other through separate missions and are able to accomplish the 435th CTS’ overarching mission.

“When we go out there, we work as a team,” Dickson said. “We help each other. That’s how we work. That is the unique thing about this job. That is the most important thing we do. We all love what we do.”