143 Construction Engineering Flight (Lunenburg County) Operations Review

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Magazine Article / March 1, 2013 / Project number: RCAF-EX2013A-06

The Five year period from 2002-2007 saw many of the 143 Construction Engineering Flight (143 CEF) personnel deployed into several exotic locations for Operations, Training, and Exercises such as Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iceland, the UAE, the USA and of course Canada. The subsequent five years, from 2008-2012, would prove to have an even greater Operational tempo for the Flight. They were kept very busy supporting Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Operations, Training, and Exercises, at various locations within Afghanistan, Canada, Kuwait, Norway, Sweden, UAE, and the USA. This synopsis will look at the Flight’s contributions to National and International Operations and Exercises over those five years.

2008, Capt Mathisen deployed as part of Op PONTOON, to assist the citizens of British Columbia in the event of any major flooding along the Fraser River. Later that year she, along with MWO Clayton, Sgt Munroe, MCpl Hymers, Cpls Currie, Stevens, Chelli, Whynot(Rodney), Elliot, and Bennett, and Pte Conrad deployed to Savannah Georgia to participate in Ex WINGED BEAVER a Deployment For Training (DFT) Exercise with the US Air National Guard.  MCpl Pineault completed a round of pre-deployment training and deployed to Afghanistan to serve with the Regional Command South (RC South) HQ at Kandahar Airfield (KAF) as part of Op ATHENA; while Cpl Ellis served with the R22eR battle group in Kandahar province. Cpl Whynot (Ryan) and Ptes Conrad and Young were part of a Technical Assistance Visit (TAV) which deployed to KAF to erect two transportable aircraft shelters in support of RCAF Operations in the region. Capts Mathisen and Silliker, MCpl Ruston, and Cpls Carver, Currie, Elliot, and Stevens, along with several other members of 14 CEF commenced a year plus regime of pre-deployment training, for their planned Operation in the districts of Kandahar province as part of the Construction Management Organization (CMO).

Their training took them to places such as Gagetown, Greenwood, Fort Bliss (USA), Kingston, Valcartier, Wainwright and Jamaica where they participated in Exercise Tropical Hammer II which was part of their high readiness training requirement. Cpl Frelick deployed to the FOL Inuvik to support CF Air Operations where he operated and maintained the aircraft arrestor gear.

2009, lliker, MCpl Ruston, and Cpls Carver, Currie, and Stevens deployed to Kandahar to conduct counter-insurgency operations with R22eR as part of the CMO. Capt Smith deployed to Camp Mirage in the UAE as the camp engineer and MWO Towler was deployed to Camp Nathan Smith, in Kandahar City, as the camp engineer and Camp Sergeant-Major. A second TAV deployed to KAF to erect Expeditionary Forces Aircraft Shelter Systems (EFASS) on the airfield. Three members of the Flight MCpl Cross, Cpl Frelick, and Pte Young were part of the TAV composition. They re-deployed after 72 days of hard work minus one member as MCpl Cross had volunteered to remain in Kandahar to augment the CE section for another four months at Camp Nathan Smith. Cpl Moreau travelled to Ottawa to augment the Governor General’s Foot Guard and became part of the Ceremonial Guard on Parliament Hill for the summer.

January 2010, MWO MacQueen, Cpl Whynot (Rodney), and Pte Young deployed to KAF as part of a third TAV to erect more of the EFASS shelters and also repaired failing infrastructure for Joint Task Force Afghanistan (JTF-Afg). In the summer of 2010, Pte Cook joined a 14 CEF TAV which deployed to KAF to refurbish CF infrastructure. In Aug, eleven members of the Flight, Capt Smith, Sgt Hymers, MCpls Cross, Ellis, Stevens, and Wade along with Cpls Chelli, Conrad, Currie, Whynot (Rodney) and Young participated in a DFT in Charlotte, North Carolina. Three members of the Flight, MCpl Wade, and Cpls Conrad and Moreau, deployed in Nov as part of Op PODIUM in support of the 2010 Winter Olympics in BC. Their mandate was to construct a 250-person camp (expandable to 500 pers);  two forward operating sites for a tactical helicopter squadron; and a  Quick Reaction Alert area to support CF-18 Operations, which  included the set-up of three Modular Shelter Systems to house the fighter aircraft. They also installed and operated a Mobile Expandable Container Configuration (MECC) power plant. On 03 December, Cpl Carver, of 143 CEF (Lunenburg), was awarded the Canadian Expeditionary Force Commander’s Commendation for his actions during an IED attack while part of the CMO. To date Cpl Carver is the only member of 14 CES to be formally recognized for an individual act of commendable devotion to duty in a combat situation.      

January 2011 MWO Ramsay deployed to Afghanistan to work in an infrastructure management position at ISAF HQ Kabul. MCpls Stevens and Whynot (Rodney), and Cpls Chelli, Parnell, Young, Whynot (Ryan), and Conrad deployed to Savannah Georgia, USA, in June as part of another DFT exercise. Sgt Hannam, MCpls Stevens, Wade, and Gabriel, Cpls Young, Smith, Conrad and, Pte Lastimosa were part of a 14 CES team deployed in July to Resolute Bay, NWT, as part of Op NANOOK. While there they constructed a C-Span warehouse that would be utilized by the CF for follow-on Operations in the Canadian Arctic. Sgt Ruston trained and deployed with 1 Combat Engineer Regiment to KAF as part of the Mission Transition Task Force where he was employed as the troop Sgt for the construction troop of the regimental support squadron. One of Sgt Ruston’s high profile tasks, while at KAF, was the dismantling of the Canadian Fallen Soldiers Memorial monument and crating it for shipment back to Canada. In August, on very short notice, Capt Smith deployed to Kuwait where he was the commandant of the Canadian Camp at Ali Al Salem Air Base. His duties included the infrastructure planning for a new Strategic Line of Communication Detachment in the Persian Gulf Region. In mid December, after completing his pre-deployment training in Canada, Sweden, and Norway, Capt Silliker deployed to Kabul. He was employed by the NTM-A Eng as the construction program manager for the Afghan National Army’s Logistics Command and was the only Canadian member of the NATO Training Mission- Afghanistan Engineers (NTM-A Eng). In November Cpl Young was awarded the Deserving Air Reservist Junior NCM of the Year Award for 2011.

Early January, 2012, 14 CES deployed a team to Camp Phoenix, Kabul, to construct a ‘secure’ structure for the CF commander. Two members of 143 CEF, MCpl Stevens and Cpl Young deployed as part of the team. In April another team of 14 CES personnel which included MCpls Carver and Ellis and Cpls Conrad and Parnell deployed to CFB Kingston to erect four 50' x 75' steel C-Span buildings for the Base Construction Engineers. Sgt Currie deployed to Inuvik and participated in Op NORTHERN DENIAL in April where he maintained/operated electrical generators and aircraft  arrestor gear. In July MCpl Carver deployed to the Arctic in support of the second iteration of Op NANOOK and Sgt Hannam departed for 5 Wing Goose Bay to construct a runway in their training area. MGen James Ferron, Commander CCTM-A, presented Capt Silliker with the Canadian Contribution Training Mission-Afghanistan Task Force Commendation for his work with NTM-A Eng.

Throughout this five year period of Operations, Flight strength, on average, was ≈40 personnel. At any given time, upwards of two thirds of the Flight were away on career courses, pre-deployment training or deployed. The remainder of 143 CEF personnel carried on with their vital tasks of recruiting and training. The withdrawal of Canadian Forces from Afghanistan has meant the Flight is now adjusting to a much reduced Operational tempo and is preparing itself to meet future challenges.

Chimo!

Editors note: 14 CES Personnel to represent the RCAF Res in Air Raid 2013 (24-26 May)

- Ex AIR RAID is a national French exercise/competition with invited foreign participants, hosted by the French Air Force and the French Air Force Reserve Officers and NCMs Association.

- This year’s competition will be hosted by the Drachenbronn 901 Air Force Base, in the Alsace region of France, Castle country, close to Strasbourg and on the Border of Germany.

- Approximately 60 French and International teams are expected to compete. This is a very physically demanding competition comprised of a 24-hour competitive field exercise (raid) which likely includes all of the following ingredients a night navigation march (40 Km), shooting, obstacle courses, driving, first aid, and weapons and aircraft knowledge.

-  The selected 14 CES team members are:  Sgt Matt Ellis, MCpl Joe Wynands, Cpl Tim Cooke, Cpl Robert Reddick and Cpl Robert White.  They will be escorted / supported by MWO Alain Rossignol from 16 Wing, Borden.

- Good luck to the team.

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