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Civil Engineer's experience aids in convoy training

1st Lt. Keith Hofkens, an electrical engineer from the 115th Fighter Wing civil engineers squadron, returned from a seven-month deployment to southern Iraq in June.  Lieutenant Hofkens participated in a provincial reconstruction team where he would go outside the wire and oversee the construction of schools and water treatment facilities. To do this job required traveling in convoys on a daily basis to make sure the government?s investment in Iraqi infrastructure was protected, he said.  (photo was submitted by Lieutenant Hofkens)

1st Lt. Keith Hofkens, an electrical engineer from the 115th Civil Engineer Squadron, returned from a seven-month deployment to southern Iraq in June. Lieutenant Hofkens participated in a provincial reconstruction team where he went outside the wire and oversaw the construction of schools and water treatment facilities. (photo was submitted by Lieutenant Hofkens)

Senior Master Sgt. Ed Smith, 115th Fighter Wing Explosive Ordinance Disposal Flight, lays a simulated pressure plate detonation device in the road during convoy training at Volk Field CRTC, Wis., June 12, 2010.  Sgt. Smith assisted in leading the 115FW Civil Engineering Squadron during annual training.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christen Bloomfield)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Ed Smith, 115th Fighter Wing Explosive Ordinance Disposal flight, lays a simulated pressure plate detonation device in the road during convoy training at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center, Wis., June 12, 2010. Sergeant Smith assisted in leading the 115FW Civil Engineering Squadron during annual training.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christen Bloomfield/Released)

Volk Field, Wis. -- Just as professional sports teams are made up of a team of highly trained athletes with different skills, the men and women of the civil engineers from Madison, Wis., have many Airmen with deployed experiences who make the team stronger and provide a wealth of knowledge to learn from.

The experiences of these veteran Airmen benefited the 115th Civil Engineer Squadron as they practiced convoy maneuvers during training in June.

"I have trained for years on convoy tactics but Iraq was the first time I used it, and I was grateful I had the training," said 1st Lt. Keith Hofkens, an electrical engineer from the 115th CES who just returned from a seven-month deployment in Iraq.

Convoys exist to transport man and machine from point A to point B. They are not successful by accident but require detailed training to ensure the safety of those in the convoy and the success of the mission they execute.

Lieutenant Hofkens participated in a provincial reconstruction team where he would go outside the wire and oversee the construction of schools and water treatment facilities. Doing this job required traveling in convoys on a daily basis to make sure the government's investment in Iraqi infrastructure was protected, he said.

"I have been talking to everyone in CE about my experiences," said Lieutenant Hofkens. "The tiring thing about this training is that we do not know if or when we will use it, but when I was in Iraq we used it, and it was a blessing to have the background in convoy training."

There is but one main reason why these men and women are driving around in convoys learning to drive, defend and maneuver these vehicles, said Lt. Col. Kevin Philpot, 115th CES Commander.

"Our goal is to send Airmen to theatre and know they have the competency to survive and carry out their mission," said Colonel Philpot.

Airmen trained in three basic areas: fighting positions, individual movements and convoy training. As the day progressed, the training became more intense and that was by design.

These Airmen learn in small steps and the training gets more complex as time goes on to make sure everyone is tracking, Colonel Philpot said.

With the need for military bases and infrastructure in Iraq and Afghanistan, CE needed to be on site to construct the buildings necessary for bases to become operational. Construction teams need convoys and CE must be able to safely transport vehicles and equipment in hostile territory.

"The purpose of a convoy is not to fight, but to get somewhere," said Colonel Philpot. "These men and women are briefed and then carry out the mission assigned because they are trained to do so."
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