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RED HORSE Airmen build education opportunities

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. James Law
Approximately 90 airmen deployed from Hurlburt Field, Fla., are building school structures from the ground up throughout Belize as part of an exercise known as New Horizons.

The first of the airmen assigned to the 823rd Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers, commonly known as RED HORSE, began to arrive in Belize in February to begin pre-construction activities and set up logistics for the three-month training exercise that started April 1 and is scheduled to run through the end of June.

"Our mission as part of New Horizons is to deploy to another country, set up our operations, construct the buildings and then redeploy our airmen and equipment back home," said Maj. Timothy Barnard, 823rd Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron commander.

Barnard explained the importance of the structures the team of airmen in red hats is now building.

"We have been fortunate enough to take part in this humanitarian assistance effort to build these four schools," said Barnard. "The additional buildings will provide the opportunity to educate at least 500 more students based on the numbers they have given me to design the classroom sizes to."

The four school structures are being built at Ladyville Technical High School, Crooked Tree Government Primary School, Louisiana Government Primary School and Trial Farm Government School. The largest of the buildings is more than 5,000 square feet and consists of four classrooms, boys and girl's bathrooms and a faculty office with separate bathrooms.

Barnard elaborated the construction of the schools is more than building structures. He emphasized the training opportunities the RED HORSE airmen receive by participating in New Horizons.

"When we found out what exactly the Ministry of Education (Belize) needed, we took the requirements back to our squadron and worked with our Senior NCOs and craft leads to design the buildings to maximize training for our airmen and meet the requirements of the Belizean teachers and students," said Barnard.

As a result of the training evaluation, all RED HORSE airmen are learning something new. Some are getting their first experience building structures with a fast, stay-in-place concrete wall system and learning different construction techniques from their Belize Defense Force counterparts. Others are learning the processes working with civilian businesses and agencies to set up logistics to successfully execute the exercise.

"It allows our airmen to not only to train on construction, but also affords an opportunity to our logistics personnel to move the equipment in and out of country, deal with the customs requirements for getting equipment into the country whether shipping things by sea or by air," Barnard said. "It allows our services troops an opportunity to work with Belizean business to beddown the task force members and provide [morale, welfare and recreation] support during their time in country."

Barnard said seeing the progress of the schools as well as the development and refinement of the airmen's skills has been a rewarding experience.

"It's been gratifying to see a concept become a reality," said Barnard. "It provides instant gratification, not only from seeing the buildings go up, but seeing the airmen train and get better at their craft so our unit can do the mission better in the future."

New Horizons is a U.S. Southern Command exercise that gives U.S., Canadian and Belizean personnel an opportunity to train jointly in an exercise setting in order to be prepared to meet future challenges. Personnel are also providing medical care, dental care and performing surgeries as part of the training.

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