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NEWS | Dec. 23, 2014

RED HORSE joins Navy, local Guam Engineers for Concrete Course

By Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wilson 36th Wing Public Affairs

Several Airmen from the 554th RED HORSE Squadron and Guam Air National Guard's, 254th  RED HORSE Squadron teamed up with U.S. Navy Sailors from Naval Base Guam to participate in the island's first joint concrete American Concrete Institute field concrete testing program Dec. 9 through 12.

The program was broken into a pair of two-day courses -- the first course featured classroom training, and the second featured field training.

The courses were taught by an ACI representative from the U.S. mainland, instructors from local companies and Master Sgt. Daniel Luning, a 554th RED HORSE Squadron subject-matter expert who served as a supplemental instructor.

"Concrete construction provides a strong, durable building material that can withstand Guam's high seismic and wind loads," said Capt. Naseem Ghandour, 554th RED HORSE engineering flight deputy commander. "Additionally, Guam's high humidity spurs a highly corrosive environment, causing rusting issues in steel structures, which concrete is naturally more resilient to."

He also noted how the use of the material is a common tactic for RED HORSE units, as they are a global rapidly deployed engineering organization that has the ability to build facilities quickly. Building concrete facilities on Guam allows the unit to gain valuable training experience for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and war-time missions.

"I feel this training really improved my knowledge on concrete testing, and I left with the skills I need to teach others on the proper techniques for testing concrete," said Airman 1st Class Manuel Jimenez, a 554th RED HORSE Squadron engineering assistant.

RED HORSE Airmen, who work with concrete daily in the construction of the Pacific Air Forces Regional Training Center at Northwest Field near Andersen, receive an average of over 400 cubic yards of concrete per project and used the training to ensure concrete for construction projects meet engineers' design specifications and code requirements. Additionally, the field certification testing allowed the Airmen to communicate at the same level with contractors when determining if a material delivery of concrete is suitable, RED HORSE officials said.

"Concrete field testing is a regulated standard by the American Institute of Concrete to allow for consistent guidance in designing, testing, and placing concrete," Ghandour said. "Certification allows for the proficiency in this standardized concrete testing enabling the government to ensure that we are receiving adequate concrete from our contractors. Failure to abide in these procedures could possibly result in (using) poor quality concrete which could affect the integrity of our facility construction projects and ultimately the safety of the occupants."

The need for the course came about after a Society of American Military Engineers, Guam Post board of directors meeting where participants noticed many companies were sending employees off-island for the training and government and military engineers were facing high costs.

"We set up the course on-island, flying in two instructors from the States and acquired the training equipment from private and government entities," Ghandour said. "The course will allow military members who have been certified to better train other Airmen in the updated skills and knowledge required by industry standards. Additionally, we were able to train a civilian instructor to provide the training on-island on a more regular occurrence, twice a year, without the need to fly in special instructors in the future."

The testing process has several parts, each step ensuring it meets standards outlined by ACI. The first is checking the temperature of the concrete, to ensure it did not arrive "hot" or too far into its chemical reaction. Next, a slump test is performed on the concrete sample, where the liquid form is placed into an inverted cone while churning and measured how much the concrete "slumps" when the cone is removed, checking to ensure its within tolerance outlined. The last part is testing the density and air content of the sample, to ensure it meets specifications.

After the field testing is complete, four cylinder samples are taken to later perform break tests at the seven-, 14- and 28-day time frames to ensure the concrete strength achieves the engineer's specified strength requirements.

The opportunity to train with the Navy as well was not lost on the RED HORSE Airmen, as standardization is the ultimate goal.

"With Navy and Air Force engineers working together on many projects around Joint Region Marianas, standardization is pivotal to ensuring the same quality and requirements are being asked for and accepted for our projects," Ghandour said. "We frequently work with the Navy regarding facility engineering, construction operation and methods; our goal is that at the end of the day, the only difference is the uniform we wear."
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