Realistic training simulates host of scenarios for battle damage unit

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Air Force Base Public Affairs
Handpicked from throughout the Air Force, members of the Expeditionary Depot Maintenance team from Robins train all year to remain ready to deploy at a moment's notice.

The highly-specialized aircraft battle damage repair unit trains five times a year to remain proficient in their skills. Its mission is to repair aircraft as quickly as possible and get them back in the air.
About 63 people now make up the maintenance team, which includes engineers, electricians, sheet metal and fuels systems specialists, and crew chiefs who perform structural maintenance work on damaged planes.

The team's most recent training exercises were conducted at Warrior Air Base - used as a simulated deployed environment.

The week-long event allowed evaluators an opportunity to identify what types of deficiencies existed, how members reacted to various situations such as simulated insurgent attacks and chemical attacks, and how members adapted and overcame barriers.

"What we want to see is if they can make the hard decisions, and also make the right ones," said Tech Sgt. T.J. Barb, an EDMX team member since 2003.

"There is no other unit that has the capability to do what we do. We like to say we don't get ready - we stay ready," he added. "We're a small unit with a great responsibility. It's a great feeling to know we may have made a difference somewhere in the world, allowing someone to come home, but also making it impossible for a tyrant to gain advantage on any particular day. That's what we're here for."

Sharing in the unique challenges that exist while deployed, Tech Sgt. Mike Reid has been training with the team for the past six years.

"It's something new every time," he said. Training also includes a group of engineers who deploy with an EDMX team when aircraft experience heavy damage at a location.

"We really get to put our school work to use right away," said 1st Lt. Eric Baker, an engineer and exercise evaluator who will deploy later this year. "This is extremely practical training where we can see an end result in a matter of hours. Young lieutenants don't get opportunities like this very often."