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210th Red Horse squadron support to DNWS is a ‘win-win…win’

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  • By Defense Nuclear Weapons School Public Affairs
  • 150th Special Operations Wing

Airmen from the New Mexico Air National Guard’s 210ᵗʰ RED HORSE Squadron at Kirtland AFB, N.M. are 
providing support to the Defense Nuclear Weapon School while receiving valuable training as they 
work.  In the fall of 2019, members of DNWS started to work with the 210ᵗʰ RED HORSE Squadron and 
the 58ᵗʰ Training Squadron to help relocate air frame training aids to a DNWS training site on 
base.  Eager to get valuable training hours on their heavy equipment, it wasn’t until the RED HORSE 
team found time in between other missions to make the ‘big’ moves happen for the schoolhouse.

“Some personnel even came to work on their days off to see these airframes safely moved,” said Col. 
George R. Farfour, DNWS commandant.  “This isn’t just a ‘win-win’ for the organizations working on 
these projects. This is a ‘win’ for the hundreds of joint service, multi- national, and interagency 
students DNWS typically sees in a year who will learn about contamination monitoring on these 
training aids.”

Using their heavy crane, flat bed trailers, and in some cases all terrain forklifts, the RED HORSE 
team was able to plan and carefully execute safe moves for each of the large training aids.  The 
equipment moves demonstrate to other commands on base that this important heavy-lift capability is 
locally available to them. More important is the timely renewal of critical skills the RED HORSE 
Airmen are getting on the heavy equipment.

“Getting hands-on heavy equipment training while solving real-world problems is a huge benefit to 
RED HORSE, especially in preparing for our upcoming overseas deployment," said Lt. Col. James C. 
Willis, commander of the 210ᵗʰ RED HORSE Squadron.

Matt Thompson, DNWS historian, says that with the training aids in place, students will practice 
contamination monitoring techniques that were employed by military responders and aircrew during 
Operation TOMODACHI in 2011 - the humanitarian effort that provided relief to Japan after a tsunami 
damaged the nuclear power plant there.  “Of particular interest to the students are aircraft 
engines because of their tendency to collect and concentrate even minute amounts of contamination 
found in the air,” he said.  “A C-130 transport aircraft engine provided by the 58ᵗʰ TRS will serve 
as one of those training aids, as well as be a great addition to the UH- 1 helicopter airframe 
training aid.”

Once the UH-1 helicopter airframe was unloaded at the DNWS training area, the RED HORSE team and 
the DTRA Albuquerque motor pool team developed a method of using forklifts and short slings to move 
the single ton airframe short distances.

“The UH-1 training aid presented a unique challenge,” Thompson said.  “It rested on skids and would 
require wheels to make it less dependent on heavy equipment for movement. Original ground handling 
wheels would have cost tens of thousands of dollars and were quickly rejected as an option.”
DNWS training specialists then developed a caster wheel design that could be fabricated for a 
fraction of the cost.

“To get these caster wheel assemblies built, one of the DNWS training buildings was turned into a 
fabrication shop by the RED HORSE team,” Willis said.  “Over the next few weeks,
the DNWS team provided all of the material, hardware, cutting and welding supplies needed for
the project. Many hours of cutting, hand fitting, welding and grinding were then conducted by our 
RED HORSE Airmen.”

This allowed the RED HORSE team to rotate personnel so everyone could practice steel fabrication 
skills that will be needed in future deployments.  Willis says his Airmen are ready and willing to 
support anywhere they can, and that he’s particularly pleased to assist the schoolhouse.
"Earlier in my career, I had the opportunity to benefit from several DNWS courses, and it is the 
best training I've had in the military,” Willis said.  “The 210 RED HORSE is delighted to
help out DNWS in any way we can."