78th CEG transforming to all-civilian workforce

  • Published
  • By Amanda Creel
  • 78th ABW/PA
Members of the 78th Civil Engineering Group will soon be taking on a new look as active-duty members depart and an all-civilian workforce is created.

"There will be an impact to the base, but we want to make the transition as seamless as possible," said Col. Edward Piekarczyk, commander of the 78th Civil Engineering Group.

The change is part of an Air Force Materiel Command initiative and affects Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Eglin AFB, Fla., and Robins. The three bases were the only remaining AFMC bases to maintain a mixture of military and civilian personnel in the civil engineer career field, said Bob Farrell, deputy base civil engineer.

"Our primary mission has been to prepare to deploy and now our primary mission will be to support the base," Mr. Farrell said.

Approximately 267 military members will be phased out of the group during the transition and 100 new civilian positions will be created in their absence. The transition is expected to be completed by the summer of 2008

The majority of the civilian positions will be filled by December, said Paul Kelley, chief of operations of the 78th Civil Engineer Squadron.

The 78th CES will see the largest impact as a result of the transition, losing 210 active-duty members with only 78 new civilians to be hired to replace them, Colonel Piekarczyk said.

For every three military members transitioned out one civilian position will be authorized to replace it.

Colonel Piekarczyk said the rationale behind the 3-to-1 ratio is that military members are expected to complete upgrade training, deployments and will PCS in and out of locations while helping complete the mission, which means the military force is never really operating at full capability.

with its ability to transport larger loads.

C-130 aircrews still perform the majority of airdrops, but it makes sense to use a C-17 when there is a requirement for larger loads, Colonel Anderson said.

Another advantage of ICDS is aircrews can avoid threats from the ground by dropping the same amount of cargo at a higher altitude. With every improvement Airmen make to precision airdrop, warfighters on the ground are more likely to receive the supplies when and where they need them.

Also, forces on the ground don't need to go outside of secured drop zones to gather equipment, thereby reducing their exposure to enemy fire.

"C-17s are capable of hitting multiple drop zones in one shot, and we've done as many as five drop zones in as little as 35 minutes," he said. "There was one combat ICDS drop from a C-17 previous to this deployment, and we've accomplished nine during the rotation."

The constant presence the 816th EAS maintains in both Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom has led to 26 medical evacuations throughout the deployment.

Crews occasionally get rerouted from a mission in progress for an aeromedical evacuation and transport the wounded servicemembers to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, or other medical treatment centers, usually within six to seven hours.

"We have a lot of presence in theater so it minimizes the time required to get the patient to Germany," Colonel Anderson said. "Sometimes you look at the cargo you're transporting, and you never know how it'll be used in combat, (and) you don't know what effect it'll have on operations. But aeromedical evacuation is a mission where you can understand the importance when you look in the back of the cargo compartment and see their faces. 

712 -- current employees in the 78th CEG, a mixture of civilian and military
273 -- military members who will be reassigned as a result of the transition 
100 -- new civilian positions authorized to replace of the active-duty members 
539 -- civilian employees after the transformation

3,578 -- sorties flown
6,617 -- flying hours
120.8 -- millions of pounds of cargo
111,549 -- passengers in and out
current as of April 24