***image1***With the Air Force’s continued emphasis on force beddown in an expeditionary setting, the 435th Construction and Training Squadron has taken the lead to bring together Expeditionary Combat Support members from across U.S. Air Forces in Europe for an intensive eight-day training regimen known as Silver Flag.
Currently located at three sites around the globe, Silver Flag started more than two decades ago in the Air Force civil engineer community. Focused primarily on rapid runway repair and base recovery after attack training, it has evolved over the years to include many other functionals.
Services joined the program in the mid 1980s, and in the past few years, members, manpower and first sergeants joined to train their folks from throughout the command.
The USAFE Silver Flag program has taken the lead by integrating other career fields into the training, such as security forces, communications, contracting, public affairs and medical members.
More than 200 students from nine USAFE bases participated in the last Silver Flag class here. These students were comprised of 11 different functionals from 37 Air Force Specialty Codes.
“While the program is not new to the command, this was only the second time so many different career fields participated,” said Senior Master Sergeant Les Jones, 435th CTS training superintendent.
Silver Flag is broken up into two separate phases. During the first four days, students receive classroom and hands on field training in their respective career fields.
Then the students employ their skills in a realistic four-day beddown deployment exercise. The team works together to build a tent city from the ground up and must come together as a cohesive unit to accomplish the exercise mission of preparing the airfield for inbound aircraft while dealing with other scenarios thrown at them from the cadre.
“The training is really good,” said Maj. Dan Sepdham, flight surgeon from the 48th Aerospace Medical Squadron at Royal Air Force Lakenheath. “We learn how to interact with other agencies that will be out there with us on the base.”
The student leadership is responsible for bringing all the pieces together in the complex scenario. During the first four days of classroom training, the student leaders from multiple Air Force Specialty Codes receive separate command and control instruction. These students receive briefings and practical instruction from experts from the 435th CTS and various USAFE directorates.
Each day when the training is complete, the leadership students work into the evening hours to prepare for the beddown portion of the Silver Flag program. They must organize all the Airmen to successfully bed down the entire student contingent.
Silver Flag is the perfect place to get practical hands on deployment experience, especially for Airmen who have never deployed.
“Silver Flag is a good indicator for what they could expect on a real world deployment,” said Tech. Sgt. Jeff Parker, 435th Services Squadron.
Senior Airman Natalie Rangel, pavements and equipment operator from the 735th Civil Engineer Squadron said, “I learned a whole lot today more than I have in my whole career. We (students) have outstanding NCOs teaching us right now. It’s really great.”
With 11 career fields participating and others looking at the possibility of joining in the future, your turn to experience this first-class expeditionary training is right around the corner.