Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers
RED HORSE squadrons provide the Air Force with a highly mobile civil engineering response force to support contingency and special operations worldwide. They are self sufficient, 404-person mobile squadrons capable of rapid response and independent operations in remote, high-threat environments worldwide. They provide heavy repair capability and construction support when requirements exceed normal base civil engineer capabilities and where Army engineer support is not readily available. They possess weapons, vehicles/equipment and vehicle maintenance, food service, supply and medical equipment.
Their major wartime responsibilities are to provide a highly mobile, rapidly deployable, civil engineering response force that is self-sufficient to perform heavy damage repair required for recovery of critical Air Force facilities and utility systems, and aircraft launch and recovery. In addition, they accomplish engineer support for beddown of weapon systems required to initiate and sustain operations in an austere bare base environment, including remote hostile locations.
The primary RED HORSE tasking in peacetime is to train for contingency and wartime operations. They participate regularly in joint chiefs of staff and major command exercises, military operations other than war, and humanitarian civic action programs. They perform training projects which assist base construction efforts while at the same time honing wartime skills.
Units possess special capabilities, such as water-well drilling, explosive demolition, quarry operations, concrete mobile operations, material testing, expedient facility erection, and concrete and asphalt paving.
A rapid engineer deployment, heavy operational repair squadron engineering (RED HORSE or RH) squadron is a separate squadron within the Air Force that is not aligned with any particular air wing or base. The RED HORSE concept of operations states that the unit's primary mission is to provide major force bed-down, heavy damage repair, and heavy engineering operations within its regional area of responsibility.
The RED HORSE squadron is structured to deploy in one of three packages designated RH1, RH2, and RH3. RH1, a team of up to 16 airmen plus equipment, is the advance party. RH1 prepares the initial base for the follow-on RED HORSE elements, conducts a site survey, and develops plans for construction requirements. The "bed-down echelon," RH2, consists of 94 airmen and a limited quantity of engineering vehicles and equipment and is capable of conducting light to medium construction responsibilities. The entire squadron, RH3, or the "construction echelon," includes all 296 airmen and more than 1,100 tons of vehicles and equipment. RED HORSE is the most heavily armed engineering force within the Air Force.
RED HORSE civil-engineering squadrons are wartime-structured units that provide a heavier engineering capability than the civil engineering base Prime BEEF and Prime RIBS units. The RED HORSE squadrons have a regional responsibility; they are not tied to a specific weapons system and are not responsible for base operations and maintenance. They are mobile, rapidly deployable, and largely self-sufficient for limited periods of time. They perform the wartime tasks of major force bed down, heavy damage repair, bare base development, and heavy engineering operations. Due to their mission, they possess greater combat capability than the civil-engineering base units.
RED HORSE was formed specifically to meet wartime needs. Its composition is based on wartime requirements; it is not assigned to an air base to perform peacetime operations and maintenance tasking. Its primary mission in peacetime is to train for wartime, and its squadrons represent the strongest combat engineer capability in the Air Force. As the lead joint engineer resource in any force-projection situation it is the most capable Air Force engineering unit when it comes to the initial wartime requirements affecting the launch, recovery and operation of Air Force combat aircraft. It is the engineer unit used by the theater or JTF commander when incoming force flow is disrupted, resupply is interrupted, or launch and recovery activities at critical locations are stopped due to major airfield damage.
RED HORSE squadrons are packaged to be available early in the time-phased deployment data flow, and they are dedicated to up-front engineer missions. They are assigned to employment locations that are critical to the success of the air war. Dividing responsibilities between Air Force engineering assets (RED HORSE, Prime BEEF, and Prime RIBS) is not attempted. RED HORSE units can perform all the engineering missions of the civil-engineering units with the exception of crash rescue and major fire suppression. The presence of Prime BEEF forces at an employment location does not exclude the employment of RED HORSE units.
RED HORSE units are theater Air Force assets with a regional responsibility. They report through theater or regional command channels. C2 of these units remains within numbered Air Force channels or a higher level if a numbered Air Force is not present (such as under the Air Force forces (AFFOR) commander of a JTF). A joint contingency wartime construction-management organization can also task RED HORSE units through the numbered Air Force for construction support. If two or more RED HORSE squadrons are in a region, an Air Force civil-engineering group will be formed with the numbered Air Force staff engineer serving as the group commander.
Vehicles, heavy equipment and RRR sets capable of supporting full RED HORSE squadrons are pre-positioned in projected TOs to mitigate any delays in receiving strategic heavy lift. In addition to theater pre-positioned sets, RED HORSE squadrons maintain home mobility sets of similar equipment that are easily deployed and maintained. They form three types of RED HORSE (RH) deployment echelons with vehicle and equipment sets at strategic locations. They are maintained in a ready-to-go condition
Critical to RED HORSE employment is the advance deployment of the RH-1 echelon. This element, tied to the appropriate theater air component commander, would deploy with the headquarters, prepare for the reception of follow-on RED HORSE elements, and prepare the advance plans for project execution. This echelon consists of a 16-person team that is deployable within 12 hours on a C-141. The team performs advanced airfield surveys, including evaluation of airfield pavements, the water supply utility systems, and existing facilities. It prepares a bed-down plan for the orderly establishment of an operator base at a force-projection location. The team also compiles facility and material requirements necessary to accomplish the force bed-down plan and accomplishes the site layout for later RH-2 force bed down.
The RH-2 echelon is a 93-person team with heavy equipment capable of deploying within 48 hours. The team performs land clearing, site stabilization, area drainage earthwork, and erection of relocatable structures essential for force bed down at an undeveloped location. The echelon performs RRR using organic equipment and repair materials (AM-2 mat, crushed stone, and so forth) that are pre-positioned or supplied by the support headquarters. The team also repairs bomb-damaged facilities and systems; installs, expands, and repairs essential utility systems; and provides initial civil-engineering support, including drilling and developing water wells for deploying forces.
The RH-3 echelon is a 295-person squadron with heavy equipment capable of deploying within 6 days. The squadron accomplishes heavy repair of bomb-damaged facilities and utility systems. The echelon erects temporary relocatable facility substitutes and installs or expands essential utility systems, including airfield lighting, to support force bed down. The squadron operates mineral product plants (batch plants, crusher, and block plant), if required, when plant equipment is supplied from contingency or host stocks. The echelon performs explosive demolition operations as required and performs RRR using echelon-organic equipment. The squadron is able to repair two large and three small bomb craters in a 4-hour period. Standard engineering capabilities provided by RED HORSE squadrons include--
- Airfield lighting.
- Concrete operations.
- Explosive demolition operations.
- Aircraft arresting systems.
- Material testing.
- Quarry operations.
- Revetment construction.
- Water well drilling.
- Mobile facility asset siting, erection, and installation.
- Fuel systems.
- Facility hardening.
- Expedient pavement expansion.
- Utility-system repair.
- Force bed down.
- Heavy earthwork.
- Road construction.
- Power generation.
- Restoring chemically protected facilities.
- Engineering design.
- Base denial operations using fire, explosives, component removal, equipment sabotage, and mechanical destruction.
- Disaster relief and preparedness.
- Defensive operations.
- C2 over the following:
- - Full-squadron deployment to one location.
- - Full-squadron deployment with phased arrival to one location.
- - Squadron deployment to multiple locations (split unit).
- - In-transit operations during deployment.
- - Work party and convoy operations.
RED HORSE squadrons accomplish major airfield construction and repair work in forward locations requiring an organic logistics capability, including vehicle maintenance, food service, supply, and logistics plans. A 60-day war readiness spares kit (WRSK) keeps these units operational until normal supply channels open.
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