Kadena Airmen, Navy Seabees combine for joint training

by Staff Sgt. Maeson L. Elleman, 18th Wing Public Affairs
Kadena Air Base

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Airmen from the 18th Civil Engineer Squadron worked side-by-side with U.S. Navy Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5 during joint airfield damage repair (ADR) training June 23.

The training gave the two forces the opportunity to gain familiarity with one another while practicing skills they could potentially implement in a wartime environment.

"It's always good training," said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dean Cuenca, NMCB 5 construction electrician and Navy assistant NCO in charge for the training. "It's great to carry out the mission that the Navy has for the Seabees and it's always great to experience what's outside of the United States. Joint exercises are always great being that we might do something different than our brothers and sisters might do. It's a great opportunity."

According to Cuenca, the training isn't a frequent occurrence for the Seabees. However, he said it's an experience that shouldn't be taken lightly.

"This is a good opportunity to integrate with our brothers and sisters in the Air Force to kind of see how their TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures) and their scheme of maneuvers go," he said. "As far as airfield damage repair goes, a lot of services have an ADR organization, and it's just our way to view how the Air Force conducts or executes their mission. We have our way; we come here with an open mind to see how the Air Force does it and maybe implement that into our team training."

During the scenario, the engineers had to practice all the steps required to rapidly repair a damaged runway to ensure aircraft can continue to takeoff. This ensures that even if Kadena was attacked it could do what it does best: provide unmatched combat power to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

To do that, the Airmen and Sailors took to the controls of heavy machinery in order to fill a previously dug 50-foot crater with surrounding debris.

Next, dump trucks supplied the workers with more filler, where the machinery was used to shape and level the hole to certain measurements before also being pressed into place by a roller and covered with a fiberglass sheet.

Though many of the procedures are similar for both services, the Air Force has a more extensive set of training that allows them to also integrate airfield lighting systems into the repair.

According to Cuenca, the different services go to the same technical training school to learn ADR procedures. However, once the Sailors graduate, the Airmen remain behind to continue training on the airfield lighting systems.

"Right now, for a lot of the personnel going to learn this skill, it's beneficial to them because if we do our ADR mission, if it's something they encounter later on in the future, it's something they're already exposed to by doing this training with the Air Force," Cuenca said.

It's this partnership with another branch of the U.S. military that's a vital component to future joint operations.

"It's really all about consistency and chemistry," said 2nd Lt. David Brown-Dawson, 18th Civil Engineer Squadron operations engineer. "If we were to be attacked, that very well could be what happens in real world situations. Being able to have that chemistry we already built through these training sessions - that just helps us even more to accomplish the mission more effectively if that comes to pass."

Brown-Dawson said despite the challenges of working with another service, he hopes the two services can work together again in the near future.

"There are always differences," he said, "but I think we're all coming together, and I think that's been the biggest piece - coming together for the sake of the mission. I think it's very important for us to train. This is a joint environment, this is a joint community and we have joint missions. To be able to train together is important to the success of our missions."

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