Team surveys ‘battle’ site

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --

A team from Air Education and Training Command and 2nd Air Force, which consisted of a total of 23 individuals from a range of career fields including civil engineers and Battlefield Airmen, surveyed sites for a possible future Battlefield Airman campus Feb. 13-17.

The installation was chosen as a potential candidate to host a schoolhouse for up to eight different officer and enlisted Air Force specialty codes to include pararescue, combat control, tactical air control and special operations weather.

“They wanted to see if there was a possibility to consolidate training into one location that would benefit the camaraderie, morale and overall effectiveness of the training,” said Maj. Daniel McGuire, 20th Mission Support Group commander’s special assistant.

Poinsett Electronic Combat Range near Wedgefield, South Carolina, is one of the reasons Shaw was being reviewed as a possible training base; some of its potential capabilities such as drop and landing zones and real-world environment training were considered during the survey. 

Not only were the range capabilities at Poinsett reviewed, but also nearby facilities with ranges that could assist training.

If Airmen are in one location for the duration of the training, they could be with their families instead of frequently moving around or being separated, said McGuire.

Currently, Battlefield Airmen complete their technical training at eight different locations, adding up to more than a year of combined training time. 

The Air Force would save an estimated $36.4 million if any of the surveyed bases are able to house training for all eight AFSCs. If Shaw is chosen, both the base and the surrounding community will also experience economic changes, gaining up to 1,000 students as well as approximately 400 instructors.

James Olsen, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron community planner, said the units could bring $300 million of positive economic impact per year to the local community.

Some of the other conditions the teams were looking for included developable land on the range and on the installation, for facilities such as dormitories, and family accommodations such as childcare and housing availability.

Additionally, the teams reviewed airspace, vehicle logistics and medical support capabilities.

“Should they come to Sumter,” McGuire said, “they will find absolute allies and friends in the community who will support them just as much as the base supports them.” 

The seven other bases chosen to be surveyed for a possible Battlefield Airman campus are Joint Base San Antonio, Texas; Hurlburt Field Air Force Base, Florida; Eglin AFB, Fla.; Patrick AFB, Fla.; Little Rock AFB, Arkansas; Vandenberg AFB, California; and Keesler AFB, Mississippi.

The preferred location is expected to be announced later this year and will be followed by an environmental impact assessment of the local area and a final decision announced in August 2018.