The Wrench and the Rifle

  • Published
  • By Specialist 3 Adam Olson
  • 28 Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The 28th Civil Engineering Squadron at Ellsworth Air force Base conducted “Operation DEATH EAGLE”, a 96-hour deployment training exercise on base, July 25-27, 2023.

The exercise was created with the mindset of readiness and the ability to utilize dynamic skillsets in hostile deployed environments.

“When you deploy, you have to stay flexible and it’s crucial for new airmen to learn that here,” said Tech. Sgt. Kristian Pfennig, 28th CES unit deployment manager who, along with his team, planned and executed the exercise with these principles in mind.

The skills focused on in these exercises include: defending a base against armed assailants, protecting themselves from chemical attacks, securing a forward operating area, and other tasks not normally assigned to Airmen whose careers may revolve around plumbing and HVAC.

“It is good for us to actually learn these skills because we don’t get a whole lot of practice with them otherwise,” said Airman 1st Class Spencer Carroll, Structure Shop Craftsman with the 28th CES. Carroll took part in the exercise and attests he appreciated the experience.

According to Carroll, the average day for many CES members can be routine and focus primarily on maintaining base infrastructure. These exercises are constructed to prepare Airmen for new and emerging threats.

“We don’t run these exercises just for fun,” said Pfennig, who has been sent on combat deployments during his career. “The ability to listen and follow when needed, and the ability to lead when needed is very important.”

Carroll stressed the importance of maintaining composure for new 28th CES Airmen.

“Some people who know all their stuff like the back of their hand, like their own name, but if they start freaking out that all goes out the window immediately,” said Carroll. “It’s really good to try to keep an open mind, try to stay positive.”

The 28th CES is slated to continue these exercises in the future, ensuring that the Airmen keep these skills sharp.

“I would rather have these skills and never use them than not have them when the time comes,” said Carroll. “It might actually save my life out there.”