Thirty-three Airmen of the 190th Civil Engineer Squadron, 190th Air Refueling Wing, conducted their two-week Deployment for Training in Browning, Montana, from July 31 to Aug. 13. During this training, 190th engineers partnered with other Air National Guard units and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation to restore five houses in the community. Because each house had different requirements, repairs ranged from siding to electrical rewiring to replumbing entire systems.
“The Blackfeet IRT (Innovative Readiness Training) site provided ample opportunities for structures, electrical, plumbing, and concrete work for all 190th Civil Engineer Airmen to work outside of their comfort zones, as well as their assigned Air Force Specialty Codes,” said Maj. William Lein, 190th CES lead. “This type of work is essential to building unit cohesion. It also helps build confidence, competence, professionalism, and improves the capabilities of our 190th CES Airmen.”
The benefits of this DFT are twofold. Engineers trained outside of their career fields and the quality of life was improved for several families while strengthening a national partnership. The work presented a few obstacles the Airmen had to overcome.
“The Airmen were limited to the tools, equipment, and material that the Blackfeet Housing Authority could provide,” explained Capt. Cody Lokken, deputy base civil engineer. “Each house was constructed differently and in varying stages of disrepair, which presented unique challenges per location.”
Lokken added that the Airmen honored the reservation’s traditions and schedule, which made the warehouse unavailable for portions of the mission.
“However, our Airmen turned those challenges into opportunities and adapted to the conditions alongside our Blackfeet partners,” said Lokken.
“The community in Browning’s population housing is maintained by roughly a dozen individuals,” said Tech. Sgt. Mark Underhill, 190th CES material manager. “With the harsh winters, the deterioration of the infrastructure is a large undertaking to maintain. Our combined efforts to help the community saved the Blackfeet Housing Authority $400,000 in labor costs, helping ensure a much more comfortable winter this season.”