Two RED HORSES are better than one for Hurlburt
on Monday, 03 November 2008

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by Staff Sgt. Mareshah Haynes
1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

11/3/2008 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- The 556th Rapid Engineers Deployable Heavy Operations Repair Squadron Engineers Squadron officially moved from Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, to beddown with the 823 RED HORSE Squadron at Hurlburt Field Oct. 1. 

The squadrons are among the first active-duty and reserve combat support units to beddown together. The move is a part of the Air Force's total force integration initiative.

"The combatant commanders requested more RED HORSE capability," said retired Lt. Col. Joe Ballard, former chief of the civil engineer's readiness division at Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command . "A lot of the work going on in Iraq and Afghanistan is reconstruction and force beddown; of course, it is in a war environment."

"Total force is a way to combine Air Force Reserve Command and active-duty assets because of limited resources," said Lt. Col. Marty Hughes, 556 RHS, Detachment 1 commander. "The Air Force does it on the flying side and now we are doing it in the combat support arena." 

The 556 RHS provides the Air Force with a highly mobile and self-sustaining combat support force. The squadron performs wartime tasks of airfield construction and repair, major beddown operations, bare base development, and large-scale construction projects in a contingency environment. 

Mr. Ballard said, through the associations, the Air Force expects to improve readiness and efficiency by sharing equipment, facilities and resources that will in-turn get Airmen trained and keep them proficient with fewer resources.

"I think this will provide us opportunities of more and better training," said Colonel Hughes, a full-time reservist. "When there is a troop training project that the 823 RHS is organizing, we can take part in that. Also, because the 823 RHS is on such a harsh deployment cycle, having the 556 here in the same compound allows us to assume more roles in the overall RED HORSE mission.. It's a win-win situation for everybody. " 

As with any major unit transition or change, the 556 RHS will have its challenges. 

"I'm going to lose about 150 traditional reservists who don't want to or can't [relocate]," Colonel Hughes said. "We have recruited about 30 people right now from the local and tri-state area. In essence, we are starting from scratch." 

Though the road to total force integration may have a few bumps in it, Colonel Hughes is confident the RED HORSE team can smooth it out. 

"Our goal is to be ready to support the RED HORSE mission by next summer," he said. "We won't be able to go as a big unit, but we should be able to send out smaller teams." 

"Transformation requires people to be true leaders," Colonel Hughes said. "We can't think of our own squadron, but the big picture of the Air Force. We have to think strategically in a tactical environment, and what is best for RED HORSE. When it comes down to it, we are one team, one fight."
Airmen on active-duty who are interested in serving as a reservist with the 556 RHS can contact their local in-service recruiter. Those already serving in the reserves can contact their Employment Relocations office within their wing or the 556 RHS at DSN 641-4943 or commercial (850) 881-4943. Civilians can contact the local Air Force Reserve recruiter.

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Last update: Monday, 03 November 2008

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