Best Serving The Best

  • Published
  • By Lt Col M. Mark Russell
  • CES

The Columbus Air Force Base 14th Civil Engineer Squadron 14 CES was redesignated as such and activated on 14 March 1966.  The squadron motto “Best Serving The Best”, continues to ring true as the men and women of the 14 CES provide first-class customer service while expertly building, maintaining, repairing, and protecting a 3.2 billion dollar infrastructure to include, four runways and over 700 facilities at Columbus Air Force Base CAFB. Our 228 military, civilian, and contractor team provides the foundation for mission success across the installation, more specifically to the 14th Flying Training Wing mission “Train World Class Pilots” while supporting the best flying training squadrons in the Air Force.  Let’s take a look at how the five flights of the 14 CES support the student pilots in their preparation to become pilots in the United States Air Force. 

The Engineering Flight is responsible for long range planning, project development, design and execution of all construction work performed by commercial contractors on CAFB and Aux Field.  This work occurs across the entire installation affecting all squadrons, but our main focus is the facilities directly supporting undergraduate pilot training UPT.  Over the past decade we have completed more than 150 projects totaling over 160 million dollars.  These projects include reconstruction of all three runways with plans to repair our Aux Field runway in the near future. Additionally, the 14 CES has managed projects to renovate or add on to several flying training squadron buildings, built a new Parachute Lateral Drift Trainer, rebuilt multiple aircraft hangars, and replaced HVAC systems in the Control Tower and RAPCON, all in direct support of our pilot training mission. Our biggest project program we are currently working is a roughly 70 million dollar bed down of the new T-7A pilot training aircraft.   

The Operations Flight contains nine trades and 94 craftsmen responsible for numerous systems across the base, providing behind the scenes work that enables pilot training to operate smoothly and efficiently.  Operations Heavy Repair sustains 18.2 million sq. ft. of airfield pavement, and 8.4 million sq. ft. of roads across CAFB and Aux Field. Operations Infrastructure maintains 168,031 linear ft. of potable water mains and 76,129 linear ft. sanitary sewer mains to ensure maximum quality  safe water rating of five from the state of Mississippi.  Over 2,900 acres are sprayed and mowed to be kept within standards safeguarding pilots against possible bird strikes and keeping training facilities free of pests.  Operations Facilities Systems maintains over 1,900 airfield lighting fixtures and 95 miles of conductor that are crucial in safely guiding CAFB pilots through nighttime flying ops and adverse weather.  Simple things like the lights coming on when the switch is flipped, the heat in the winter, the AC in the summer, toilets flushing and the faucet producing water – all these things in the built environment are often taken for granted; yet are provided every day through the continuous hard work of CE Operations.   

The Installation Management Flight CEI consists of the Environmental Element, Resources Element and Military Housing Office.  Our Environmental Element team ensures Environmental Compliance and Environmental Restoration through the day-to-day monitoring and reporting of all issues related to air and water quality, hazardous material and hazardous waste management, recycling of materials, cleanup and after-action mitigation efforts for all fuel spills to include releases from aircraft mishaps. The Environmental Element also manages natural and cultural resources programs that provide recreational opportunities for 14 FTW members via access to nature trails, SAC Lake, annual hunting programs and protection of threatened and endangered species. Among other things, the Asset Management Element manages all real estate & real property transactions.  In essence, real property is the backbone of airpower as our buildings, runways and structures are part of the Air Force’s real property catalog. Finally, the Military Housing Office is responsible for providing centralized comprehensive management of military family housing, unaccompanied housing, and housing referral/relocation services to meet housing needs of both accompanied and unaccompanied Airmen, including our large student pilot population.   

The Fire & Emergency Services Flight directly supports the flying mission for both the main base and Auxiliary Field through emergency dispatch, fire prevention, and incident response to include but not limited to: Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting ARFF, pre-hospital medical care, structural firefighting, rescue of entrapped people, HazMat response, command & control, and as community partners. Execution of mutual aid agreements across five counties including four Emergency Management Agencies, the Golden Triangle Airport, and Mississippi Forestry Commission. The Fire Prevention section provides fire code enforcement and public education by inspecting all facilities and reviewing plans for new construction, renovations, and infrastructure projects to provide the highest-level of fire safety for our community and our student pilots.  The CAFB FD not only supports the production of world class pilots, but they also produce world class firefighters to ensure the safest community possible with worldwide positive mission impacts. 

The Installation Office of Emergency Management IOEM is responsible for managing, training, and developing plans to assist in prevention, protection, preparation of, mitigation, response to, and recover from all hazards/threats affecting CAFB through the base disaster response force, which consists of subject matter experts drawn from every unit on the base. The primary objective of the force is to provide command, control and support for on-scene responders during emergency response and recovery. Ultimately, the IOEM’s efforts ensure that the 14 FTW continues to operate seamlessly and deliver world-class pilots despite any physical hazard/threat effects which pose risk to lives, key resources, facilities, infrastructure, and operational missions. 

In 1941, Gen. Henry H. “Hap” Arnold said, “Air bases are a determining factor in the success of air operations. The two-legged stool of men and planes would topple over without this equally important third leg.”  The air base consists of runways, roads, facilities, and utilities, all of which are CE’s responsibility.  CE is the third leg! For over 75 years, Air Force Civil Engineers have led the way, and the 14 CES is extremely proud to support the “Train World Class Pilots” mission and our student pilots. ENGINEERS…LEAD THE WAY!