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Grissom squadron lays the ground work for new bivouac

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help: Senior airmen Jeffery Peters, 434th Civil Engineer Squadron, pest management journeyman, saws relief cuts in a concrete pad, in August at Grissom Air Reserve Base. The training area is meant to help accelerate readiness by providing realistic bivouacs training sites.
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Airmen from the Grissom Fire Department use water to keep a concrete saw blade cool as Senior Airmen Jeffery Peters, 434th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management journeyman, saws relief cuts in a concrete pad at Grissom Air Reserve Base in August. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jami K. Lancette)

BY TECH. SGT. JAMI K. LANCETTE - 434th ARW Public Affairs

It’s often said that practice makes perfect and one squadron at Grissom Air Reserve Base is doing just that by setting a foundation with a hands-on approach to readiness.

The 434th Civil Engineering Squadron recently broke ground at the base building a training area for airmen to simulate living conditions in a deployed environment.

“My hope is to get airmen out from behind the computer and hopefully help our retention numbers,” said Master Sgt. Kent Henshaw, of the 434th Civil Engineer Squadron. “We have asked our airmen before what would help them want to stay here and not get out after their six-year commitment; they answered with more hands-on involvement and less time at a computer.”

“So I think it will help engage our airmen better,” Henshaw added.

Temporary encampments with minimal facilities – or bivouacs – are routinely used by U.S. armed forces deployed down range. The training bivouacs accelerate readiness by providing realistic training sites.

“We are required to do a bivouac contingency exercise every three to four years,” said Henshaw. “What we are working on right now will be an in-house contingency training site where we can set up our tents and train for a war-time scenario.”

With two-thirds of the construction completed, Henshaw hopes that airmen will begin training with the new site as early as next year.

“Right now we have a two-acre footprint consisting of eight concrete pads and by the time we are completed we should have about 24 pads,” said Henshaw.

With that amount of space not only will CES airmen be able to set up and tear down their tents but Henshaw says that they will also be able to share the training site with other base entities.

“We would like to have some continuation in the future to not only have services bring their field kitchen here but other bases entities can benefit from it during their own exercises,” he said. 

The new bivouac will also reform training by improving efficiency and effectiveness.

Currently airmen travel to Camp Atterbury, in southern Indiana, for training. This site eliminates the need for travel, saving both time and money.

The 434th Air Refueling Wing, based at Grissom Air Reserve Base, is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The citizen airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.