219th RED HORSE Squadron

To support combat air power worldwide, RED HORSE provides the Commander of Air Force Forces (COMAFFOR) a dedicated, flexible, airfield and base heavy construction and repair capability.  RED HORSE also provides many special capabilities that allow the COMAFFOR to move and support missions as the air order of battle dictates.  The standard RED HORSE capability consists of 404 personnel (engineers and support personnel) with approximately 1,000 short-tons of vehicles, heavy construction, and support equipment.  This organic support allows the unit to operate independently for extended periods of time until normal supply channels are established.  In addition to the standard capability, the RED HORSE special capabilities consist of approximately 2,200 short-tons, which can be tailored to meet specific construction and repair requirements.  When operating in a higher threat, non-permissive environment outside a forward operating base or collocated operating base, the RED HORSE commander, in coordination with the area commander (i.e., combat arms land force commander), determines additional security requirements based on operational risk.

Although the 219th RED HORSE Squadron (RHS) was a relative newcomer to the RED HORSE mission it is, in fact, a long established Air National Guard civil engineer unit with a distinguished past in service to both nation and state.  The 219th RHS has its roots from the 120th Civil Engineer Squadron assigned to the 120 Fighter Wing located at Great Falls International Airport, Montana.  In November of 1996 an advance team of six personnel were detached from the 120th CES with orders to prepare for the rerole of the 120 CES operations flight to a RED HORSE unit.  Along with six USAF personnel this team began the stand-up of a fully operational RED HORSE Squadron.  Training for the RED HORSE mission began even before the activation of the 219th RHS was official.  On January 11th and 12th 1997, 84 personnel participated in the first RED HORSE Unit Training Assembly (UTA) which was conducted in a former KC-135 nose dock at Malmstrom AFB.  That winter and spring this converting unit performed an ANG directed Deployment for Training to PACAF and supported emergency flood relief efforts in Grand Forks ND by providing water purification support to a major hospital.  The remainder of 1997 was spent organizing, training, equipping and preparing facilities for the unit.  Training is the primary peacetime duty of the 219th RHS.  Great emphasis is placed upon training in order to maintain the unit in a high state of combat readiness and preparation for operations involving natural disasters and other contingencies.  UTAs and Annual Training Tours emphasize individual and collective skill and readiness training.

On 3 Sep 1997, the 219th RED HORSE Flight (RHF) a 125 person RH Team, was activated as an Air National Guard Associate unit with the 819th RED HORSE Squadron at Malmstrom AFB Great Falls, Montana.  The 219th RHF provided one-third of the manpower and equipment of the combined squadron.

In 2014 the 219th RHS ended its affiliation with the 819th RHS; it now deploys with the 210th RHS from Kirtland AFB, New Mexico and the 254th RHS from Anderson AFB, Guam to make a complete Air National Guard squadron.  The 219th RHS serves as the lead unit for the three guard RED HORSE squadrons.  This additional command responsibility has brought a full colonel position to the Montana squadron.

The 219th RHS comes with great capabilities for the state of Montana, because it’s such a well-rounded organization.  They are considered a Tier 1 initial response capability for the state of Montana for any type of flood, snow or any natural disaster.  The Airmen of the 219th RHS maintain 26 different Air Force Specialty Codes.  That wide range of capabilities sets them apart from any other civil engineering units.  They have vehicle maintenance, food service, and supply as well.

From Oct 1997 to Aug 2002, the unit conducted 34 deployments to Germany, Honduras, Kuwait, Korea, Guatemala, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Japan, Guam, Israel, Afghanistan and several stateside bases where they constructed base camps, repaired roads, installed aircraft arresting systems, built schools, aided in Central American flood relief, placed concrete foundations, erected steel structures and performed utility work.

On 15 Sep 2002, the 219th RHF was involuntarily activated under a Presidential Partial Mobilization authority in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  The 219th RHF joined with its associate unit the 819th RHS and departed for Southwest Asia.  The 819th/219th RED HORSE Squadron completed 27 projects in Kuwait, Pakistan, Qatar, and Oman with a cost of $28.1 million within five-and-a-half months.  The 219th RHF was the project lead and conducted spoke operations for eight of the projects.  The projects included erecting steel structures, constructing concrete structures, runway construction and repair, and utility work.

In Jan 2004, the 219th RHF volunteered to support the Global War on Terrorism.  The unit deployed as an advance team to the Horn of Africa in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  Their projects included, the construction and renovation of clinics, schools and other humanitarian civic action projects.

In 2008, members of the 219th, 555th, and the 820th RHS’s teamed up for the 2008 version of the New Horizons program and served as the lead for the task force.  The engineers deployed for a three-month period to Peru and completed several construction projects, including a clinic and a school in Yanama, a village with a population of almost 8,000, and a clinic in San Cristobal, a town of 9,000.  New Horizons is a long-running, SOUTHCOM-sponsored program that annually provides humanitarian assistance to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In 2013, the 219th RHS members fought and provided security and other support functions during Montana forest fires. They’ve recently provided state flood relief assistance to Colorado to help rebuild roads.  A cooperative agreement between the governors of each state allowed the 219th RHS to assist.

In 2014, the reorganization of the 219th under an Air Nationmal Guard squadron resulted in a change of direction of the squadron’s building specialties.  Then, in October 2015, the three guard squadrons deployed as a full team to Southwest Asia.  Additional personnel augmented the deployment from active duty, guard and reserve units.

In 2017, members of the 219th RHS completed a major construction projects while deployed to Israel.  The project:  correct a safety and settlement problem with a base building.  Engineers determined poor soil conditions had allowed the building foundations to settle, causing the interior floors to fall below the level of the outdoor sidewalks. As a consequence, doors were unable to open to the outside of the buildings and serious tripping hazards were created.  The construction team went to work correcting the construction problems.

In April 2021, the 219th RHS deployed again to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar as part of the 557th Expeditionary Red Horse Squadron, the in place unit designator.







3 Sep 1997- 219th RED HORSE FLIGHT established
March 2004- Redesignated RED HORSE Squadron

Malmstrom AFB, Great Falls, Montana