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ECES builds working relationship

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Marie Brown
  • U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs
At an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, there is a group of professional Airmen, some on their first deployment, who received the unique opportunity to work hand-in-hand with their counterparts from another nation.

Airmen with the Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron worked side-by-side with their Australian counterparts as they collectively constructed a beddown site from the ground up.

Approximately 35 tents were constructed by the joint partnership and will be used to house incoming Australian personnel.

“Integrating the Australian craftsmen was seamless,” said Capt Douglas, Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron operations flight commander. “Within days of the team’s arrival Airmen were working side by side their Australian counterparts.”

The Airmen with the ECES along with their Australian counterparts are taking advantage of working together and learning from each other.

“There is a lot to learn from each other because everyone brings a different skillset to the table,” said Flying Officer Ben Whyte, Air Task Group airfield engineer. “With Australian and American Airmen integrated together, everybody is really learning the best way to accomplish each task.”

Being integrated with other forces within the same shop is not something that Airmen see or experience on a standard deployment.

“It’s rare that our Airmen have the opportunity to work this closely with our foreign partners at the ground level like this,” said Douglas. “It is something the Airmen train for, and it is in their specialty, but they don’t get to do it every day.”

On the flip side, the Australians are experiencing the working relationship in a slightly different way.

“My team has a lot of experience, but we weren’t able to bring a lot of the tools available here,” said Whyte. “Working with the Americans and the tools available has been a great opportunity."

With a mixture of having some experienced team members and some who are new to the deployment scene, both sides are learning from each other.

“Most of our craftsmen have only been on the ground a month, and for a lot of them, this is their first deployment,” said Douglas. “Some have very specific work experience, where [Whyte’s] team’s experience is much more diverse. My Airmen have learned a lot working with the Australian crew.”

Besides the uniforms, there aren’t many differences between the two organizations.

“Our trades are very similar to what the U.S. Air Force trades are,” said Whyte. “We have electricians we call “sparky’s,” plumbers, plan operators and carpenters.”

Some other differences would be that we don’t have specializations in generators or heating, ventilation and air conditioning, added Whyte.
Both sides agree that working with each other has been easy, and everyone has been helpful.

“The Australians are incredible,” said Douglas. “It is very easy to work with Flying Officer Whyte and his team because nothing fazes them.”

“The U.S. Air Force has been very generous, very giving and willing to help,” said Whyte. “Every conversation ends with ‘if there is anything else we can do just let us know.’ Capt. Douglas and his team are always willing to help out.”