From idea to reality: Programs flight keeps the ball rolling

by Staff Sgt. Travis Edwards
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

What would you do with $70.4 million?

Buy a new car or house — pay off bills or a student loan. Would you give it away or even buy a tropical island?

What about ensuring military structures are maintained? Or constructing new buildings on base and managing contracts for more than 25,000 personnel? Does it still sound fun?

That is exactly what the 86th Civil Engineer Squadron Programs Flight does every year.

Eric Rushing, 86th CES programs flight chief, and his team of about 100 Airmen, military, civilian and locals manage all construction requests that come through his office that are not able to be fulfilled by the 786th CES.

“When the job gets too big or too expensive for our companions at the 786th (CES), that is where we come in,” Rushing said. He said they work with 700th Contracting Squadron and Landesbetrieb Liegenschafts- und Baubetreuung, commonly referred to as LBB, to award and hire contractors to complete the work.

However, not all the jobs must go through LBB. The program flight can farm the open request forms to military construction when necessary due to cost and convenience.

“Any new constructions or alterations more than €375,000 must go through LBB,” said Capt. Eric Holm, 86th CES programs flight chief of design and technical support. “Contracts that cost between €150,000 and €374,999, LBB must only be considered as a choice.”

Both Rushing and Holm echoed that the simplified acquisition of base engineering requirements contract is the preferred method of getting the job done. The SABER contract’s main purpose is to expedite contract awards. They do this by only taking projects that do not require extensive design.

“Our job is to make it from an idea to reality. We want to make sure our customers are happy,” Rushing said. “That means we don’t have much time to sit on a project, but at the same time, we want to get it right and coordinate with all the necessary and multiple agencies on and off base. Put simply, we execute projects.”

In a year, the programs flight completed 294 operations and maintenance projects totaling more than $70.4 million. Of the 294 projects, around 240 of them were awarded using a SABER contract.

Another facet of the programs flight is quality assurance, where Airmen will go on-site to a project to ensure the builder is providing the best possible products and service and that all construction and alterations are within written guidelines.

“Our QA team has impeccable attention to detail. They have to, if a room or building isn’t constructed as planned, they need to be able to catch it before it is too late and the customer is unhappy,” Rushing said.

But after the contract is accepted, and the project is designed, Holm said there is one thing that keeps him and his Airmen going.

“We have a motto,” Holm said. “Build it, live it. We live for this work, we want our finished product, what we build, to be great and reflect on all the new projects, construction and modifications in and around Ramstein Air Base. Our Airmen do that and they are second to no one.”