177th Civil Engineer Squadron and 171st Civil Engineer Squadron Participate in Piney Devil Prime BEEF Training Exercise

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Andrew Merlock
  • 177th Fighter Wing - NJ Air National Guard

Last month, civil engineer Airmen from the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, and the 171st Air Refueling Wing, Pennsylvania Air National Guard, participated in the Piney Devil Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force (Prime BEEF) exercise here at the 177th Fighter Wing.

The exercise consisted of both classroom lectures and the performance of taskings to test their ability to provide the engineering support required to establish an airbase and bed down both people and aircraft. 

“We’re a Prime BEEF squadron. Our Job is to go repair bases and fix bases. If it’s not there, we’re going to make it,” said Lt. Col. Lucas Smith, commander of the 177th Civil Engineer Squadron.  “So as a Prime BEEF team, we have to do a 96-hour training event roughly every four years.  This exercise allows us to provide Prime BEEF training to the members that were excused from last year’s training in Alaska and the members that are new to our squadron.” 

During the exercise, Airmen also erected a Disaster Relief Beddown System tent, and traveled to the Warren Grove Range on UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, where they performed land navigation and simulated combat exercises against both peer and opposing forces.  

“They have to leave the base and do land navigation through the pinelands to find somebody, with a compass and a map,“ said Smith.  “They’re going to be in an unfamiliar environment and have to deal with the weather and fatigue.  They’re going to be competing against opposing forces and another team that’s trying to do the same thing, and if the teams bump into each other, we’ll see who wins,” Smith said.

In addition to the practical exercises, Airmen provided a briefing to a simulated base commander, detailing their plan for the initial set-up of an airbase.  Col. Brian Cooper, 177th Maintenance Group commander, served as the simulated base commander and provided feedback after the briefing.

“It was an awesome, collaborative effort,” said Cooper.  “These are great exercises with different Air National Guard units because it enables them to learn and work together in a great training environment to bring more realism to what we will be doing in the future with agile combat employment as a deployed combat wing.”