JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- A 39-member team from across the Pacific Air Forces traveled to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, to compete at the Air Force Civil Engineer Readiness Challenge VIII, hosted April 18 through 22.
One of eight teams competing in the challenge, the group consisted of 34 members from the 673d Civil Engineer Group, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, with teammates from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska; Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; and Osan Air Base, Korea.
The event challenges CE Airmen to showcase their total mission readiness while competing on integrated base response skills and practices. Although it first began in 1986, the Global War on Terror put it on hiatus.
“Going to this competition will help grow our teamwork and knowledge to overcome challenges,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Paul Hosmanek, one of the PACAF team’s leads. “We will get to bring that back to apply to our day-to-day mission.”
Hosmanek also spoke on the history of the event and how that affected the team.
“This competition hasn’t been held in 20 years,” Hosmanek said. “JBER, or the 3rd Wing as it was at the time, won the last competition. This history makes the event more important to the team as they go to Florida.”
According to the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, Readiness Challenge VIII is about three things: building a warfighting culture among civil engineers, assessing unit readiness and building Airmen’s engineer contingency skills.
To maintain the teams as a full mission-ready force, the teams will be assigned unknown tasks during the event.
“We don’t know what they are going to throw at us,” Hosmanek said. “As a team, we have been working with each job center to get subject matter experts [for] specific events.”
Although the challenge is a competition, many of the PACAF team members say the value goes above just competing; it allows the CE career field to work together and innovate new solutions to old problems.
“The Readiness Challenge provides a chance for the Air Force to properly measure the CE enterprise’s readiness and lethality,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Joseph Lee, another of the PACAF team’s leads. “This is something completely new to all of us. The participating units get a chance to showcase skills, best practices, and the results of their training programs in front of [Major Commands], Air Force Civil Engineer Center, and [Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center] representatives. It allows all units a chance to collaborate, find best practices, create better training plans, and improve ourselves together.”
Overall, throughout the tasks they have trained to overcome, the Airmen will highlight their ability to operate in contested, degraded or austere environments.
“The Readiness Challenge gives CE and the Department of the Air Force many opportunities to learn and collaborate, but one of the best opportunities is recognizing our Airmen’s knowledge and skills that they hone every day,” Lee said. “I believe we should take every opportunity to celebrate our Airmen’s capability, and this is a perfect way to do so.”