Military Wiki
Active 1965-present
Country United States
Branch Seal of the United States Department of the Air Force.svg United States Air Force
Role Mobile heavy engineering

RED HORSE (Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers) squadrons are the United States Air Force's heavy-construction units. Their capabilities are similar to those of the U.S. Navy Seabees and U.S. Army heavy-construction organizations.[1]


In the Vietnam War, Air Force "Prime BEEF" ("Base Engineer Emergency Force") teams filled a need for short-term construction capabilities. However, the Air Force needed a stable and longer-term heavy- repair capability. The response was to organize two, 400-man (12 officers and 388 airmen) heavy-repair squadrons.[2] RED HORSE units activated in 1966 when Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara asked the Air Force to develop its own combat construction team.[3]

RED HORSE squadrons provide the Air Force with a highly mobile civil engineering response force to support contingency and special operations worldwide. Units are self-sufficient, 404-person mobile squadrons, capable of rapid response and independent operations in remote, high-threat environments worldwide. They provide heavy-repair capability and construction support when requirements exceed normal base civil engineer (Prime BEEF) capabilities and where U.S. Army engineer support is not readily available.

RED HORSE units possess weapons, vehicles/equipment and vehicle maintenance, food service, emergency management, contracting, supply and medical equipment and personnel.

RED HORSE's major wartime responsibility is to provide a highly mobile, rapidly deployable, civil engineering response force that is self-sufficient to perform heavy damage repair required for recovery of critical Air Force facilities and utility systems, and aircraft launch and recovery. In addition, it accomplishes engineer support for beddown of weapon systems required to initiate and sustain operations in an austere bare-base environment, including remote hostile locations, or locations in a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives (CBRNE) prone environment.

The primary RED HORSE tasking in peacetime is to train for contingency and wartime operations. It participates regularly in Joint Chiefs of Staff and major command exercises, military operations other than war, and civic action programs. RED HORSE performs training projects that assist base construction efforts while, at the same time, honing wartime skills. Air Force RED HORSE units possess special capabilities, such as water-well drilling, explosive demolition, aircraft arresting system installation, quarry operations, concrete mobile operations, material testing, expedient facility erection, and concrete and asphalt paving.

To support the "Open the Airbase" mission, RED HORSE added an Airborne capability in 2005. With this capability, RED HORSE can rapidly deliver small specialized teams and equipment packages by airdrop or air insertion to conduct expedient airfield repairs. The only unit to have parachute-inserted troops (Airborne) is the 820th RED HORSE. Additionally, in 2004, the 554th established an Airborne capability known as the 554th RHS Assault, Assessment, and Repair Operations (AARO, pronounced “arrow”) team to provide a rapid airfield seizure and repair capability for the Pacific theater.[4]


There are four active-duty, six Air Force Reserve Command, and five Air National Guard RED HORSE squadrons:[5]

The 1st Expeditionary RED HORSE Group (inactivated) was in the USCENTCOM area of responsibility (AOR).[6] The 557th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron is now located in the USCENTCOM AOR, and is part of the 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineering Group that also consists of two Prime BEEF Squadrons.

Air Force Reserve:

  • 307th RED HORSE Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana (associate unit to the 554 RHS)(Reflagged as the 556th RHS and relocated to Hurlburt Field, FL)[7]
  • 555th RED HORSE Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada (classic association with 820th RHS)
  • 556th RED HORSE Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida (classic association with 823d RHS)
  • 560th RED HORSE Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina (active association with 94th Civil Engineer Squadron)
  • 567th RED HORSE Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina (active association with 94th Civil Engineer Squadron)
  • 583d RED HORSE Squadron, Beale Air Force Base, CA (Formed with personnel made excess by the reduction of the 940 CES to a CE flight)[8]

Air National Guard:

  • 200th RED HORSE Squadron, Port Clinton, Ohio
    • Detachment, Mansfield, Ohio[9]
  • 201st RED HORSE Squadron, Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania
    • Detachment, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania
  • 202d RED HORSE Squadron, Camp Blanding, Florida (combines with the 203d RHF to form a full squadron)
  • 203d RED HORSE Flight, Camp Pendleton, Virginia (combines with the 202d RHS to form a full squadron)
  • 219th RED HORSE Squadron, Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana (associate unit to the 819th RHS)
  • 254th RED HORSE Squadron, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam (associate unit to the 554th RHS)

The Air National Guard squadrons are split units with separate commanders. When mobilized (excluding the 219th and 254th), these units come together as one squadron.

See also


External links

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