Closing the gap: Airmen, Marines and Sailors practice Air Field Damage Repair

by Senior Airman Omari Bernard
Kadena Air Base

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Civil engineer Airmen, combat engineer Marines and Navy Seabees trained together during a joint airfield damage and repair contingency exercise held at Kadena Air Base on May 18-19, 2016.

The two day exercise allowed 18th Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen to demonstrate and then guide the Marine Wing Support Squadron combat engineers and Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4's Seabees through a hands-on demonstration of the Air Force method to ADR.

For U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Steven Cordova, 18th CES expeditionary engineering flight chief, the focus of the training was understanding the differences learning to operate efficiently together.

"The main focus is to close the gap between services," explained Cordova. "Right now, everyone kind of operates on their own terms and has their own way of doing things. When push comes to shove we need to be able to work together and that's what today is all about."

Although there may be differences between the training of the services, their object is the same - fill craters and get the airfield operational again.

"The steps are a little bit different, but in essence the steps are the same," said U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Justin Luk MWSS 172 combat engineer. "Assess the crater, make it flat and from there we fill it in."

Luk said the first day of the exercise was mainly spent watching the Airmen perform the damage repair and the second day the Marines took over and performed the repairs the same way.

"We had multiple objectives coming out here," Luke said. "One was to reaffirm that we are capable of doing it. Another, was to learn what we could from our Air Force counterparts."

According to Luke, USMC combat engineers deploy to different forward operating bases and more often than not, those FOBs are going to be mixed units.

"It's one team and one fight," Luk said. "Here in peacetime we are able to train that way."

The exercise gave members from all of the services the opportunity to familiarize themselves with each other and their junior members experience working in a joint environment.

"It was a good learning opportunity for some of our guys to get some experience on something they haven't done before," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Darcel Tinner, NMCB 4 Seabee.

From Tinner's experience, performing ADR for the Navy involves more manual work than use of heavy machinery.

"We'll fill holes by hand compared to us using machines," Tinner said. "If there's anything we'll take away from this, it's to use more machines."

Cordova said the overall objective of the ADR exercises are to improve their craft and interoperability with the multiple services on Okinawa.

"I love working with the other services," said Cordova. "Everyone has their own way of doing things. I think we met our objectives for this training. For us it's to get the muscle memory going and integrate the Marines into what we do. The next step is to integrate ourselves into how the Marines operate, so when push comes to shove we can work together as one cohesive team."

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