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113 CES joins Jamaica Defence Force to enhance learning

Tech. Sgt. Gursimran Shergill, 113th Civil Engineer Squadron engineer, works with members from the Jamaica Defence Force 1 Engineer Regiment in Montego Bay, Jamaica Aug. 4. The team used survey equipment to map the area around a building the JDF plan to turn into a training site for military police. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Erica Rodriguez)

Tech. Sgt. Gursimran Shergill, 113th Civil Engineer Squadron engineer, works with members from the Jamaica Defence Force 1 Engineer Regiment in Montego Bay, Jamaica Aug. 4. The team used survey equipment to map the area around a building the JDF plan to turn into a training site for military police. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Erica Rodriguez)

D.C. National Guard and Jamaica Defence Force 1 Engineer Regiment members pose together for a group photo on Up Camp Park Aug. 5. The 113th Civil Engineer Squadron members traveled to Jamaica as part of the State Partnership Program between the DCANG and JDF. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Erica Rodriguez)

D.C. National Guard and Jamaica Defence Force 1 Engineer Regiment members pose together for a group photo on Up Camp Park Aug. 5. The 113th Civil Engineer Squadron members traveled to Jamaica as part of the State Partnership Program between the DCANG and JDF. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Erica Rodriguez)

KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Members of the 113th Civil Engineer Squadron, D.C. Air National Guard, experienced a very unique training environment far away from the D.C. Metro area, working with members of the First Engineer Regiment, Jamaica Defence Force, on a variety of civil engineer projects.

The two-week tour of duty includes projects such as heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, plumbing and structural work. Each project includes members of the DCANG and JDF working side-by-side to learn from each other and build rapport among the members of the two nations.

"I love partnerships, especially one such as this that is mutually beneficial between the two organizations," said Lt. Col. Martin E. Rickman, Commanding Officer, 1st Engineer Regiment, JDF. "We each have drawn experience and learning from each other."

Beginning more two years ago, Rickman was discussing the idea of a civil engineering trip with a representative from the D.C. National Guard. Through the Visiting Forces Act, the two created an itinerary that ensured the safety and jurisdiction of the American forces while working with the JDF in Jamaica.

Initially, a team of eight to ten people was discussed but once an exploratory team was sent to Jamaica to meet with the JDF on which projects were highest priority, it became apparent a team of 30 would be more appropriate. The team included numerous civil engineering career fields such as carpentry, plumbing, engineer assistant, power generation, electrical distribution, surveying and more.

"The advantage of bring a large contingent of engineers was two-fold; It allowed a broad spectrum of training to be accomplished across a variety of civil engineer specialties," said Chief Master Sgt. Sterlin Wilson, 113 CES Chief Enlisted Manager. "It also allowed for a great deal of work to be accomplished for our host nation facilities and infrastructure."

Upon arrival in Jamaica, the 113 CES contingent met with their respective career field counterparts and hit the ground running. Once the crews were in place, certain projects took center stage. One such project, the design of a Morale, Welfare, and Recreation center for the JDF junior ranking personnel, was designed completely from the ground up by the 113th engineering shop. 3D structural plans were created of the 20'x10' building that will include full functional computers and morale equipment to better enhance the lives of the JDF soldiers.

The "Dirt Boys", the nickname for the pavement and heavy equipment shop, were especially happy to find out what equipment the JDF personnel were using and how large in scale the equipment really was. Using equipment such as the Caterpillar 120H grader, not usually available to the DCANG personnel unless in a deployed environment, the Guardsmen gained quite a lot of experience while having a little fun.

"I was told the Guardsmen working the heavy equipment and pushing dirt around were enjoying themselves so much, they did not want to get up out of the seat," said Rickman.    

The D.C. Guardsmen were also able to garner some downtime and explore the local area during the two-week stretch. The 1st Engineer Regiment staff provided guided tours of local beaches and provided briefings to the 113th members to ensure their safety was of highest concern during the visit.

The visit was deemed a success by both the DCANG and JDF personnel. The extensive amount of knowledge shared between the two countries and the camaraderie built really drove home how important experiences such as these can be.

"The ultimate outcome of this event was a resounding success," said Wilson. "We have gained valuable training across ten Air Force specialty codes and, most importantly, fostered a long lasting relationship with our State Partnership Program partners. This event was definitely the beginning of many great things to come."

Before the trip came to a close, planning already started on future events where JDF civil engineer personnel would come to the U.S. in a similar fashion and share experiences. The success of the two-week trip ensures a strong state partnership between the DCANG and JDF for years to come.

"Although there was a little bit of apprehension at first, once we were put together face to face, all the apprehension went away quickly and the feedback has been very positive and productive," said Rickman. "Going forward, I really feel this [state] partnership is going to become a model for future partnerships to emulate."