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Smooth operators dig new digs

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Claire Behney
  • 193rd Special Operations Wing
Being the best has its benefits. Just ask the Airmen of the Air National Guard Schoolhouse, Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., who provide unique proficiency upgrading training to servicemembers throughout the Department of Defense and around the world.

While the program has the very best Airmen, modern equipment and state-of-the-art classrooms, current students have been housed in less than ideal World War II barracks.

But thanks to a $16 million federal stimulus fund presented here March 31, the gap between high speed schooling and low-grade housing will soon be filled by a new 16,000 square-foot troop quarters building.

"It really comes down to a quality of life issue here," said U.S. Congressmen Tim Holden. "We have a dedicated force that does such a great job. They're the best at what they do, so they deserve the best facilities."

Because of their unique mission and global participation, it only seemed natural to catch the entire schoolhouse program up to the 21st century, said Holden. With the new safe and modern living facility this one-of-a-kind schoolhouse will finally be there.

This one-of-a-kind schoolhouse is made up of four different sections, the Regional Equipment Operator Training Site, Services Regional Training Site and the Lightening Force Academy, all of which are unique to the Air Force. The Regional Training Site is also a part of the schoolhouse, but there are only a total of five RTS in the Air Force.

"The program is unique to the total force because we're the only ones in the world that have it -- not even fulltime Air Force has it," said Chief Master Sgt. Kenneth M. Deck, Air National Guard Schoolhouse commandant. "It draws students from all over the world, including Canada, England, Lithuania and Norway."

The schoolhouse not only brings in students from across the globe, but contains equipment valued more than $20 million and has trained more than 22,000 students to date.

The current troop quarters were built during World War II as temporary buildings, but they have outlived their original purpose, said Deck. Upgrades were made to these structures in the late 80s and early 90s, but the 60-year-old buildings need to be retired.

"This update is long overdue," said Deck.

As more than 2,000 students go through the school annually, providing them with safe and modern facilities is the priority, Capt. Joel D. Sattazahn, base civil engineer.

"We want to be sure to give them a quality and safe experience while visiting our facilities," said Sattazahn. The current buildings contain fire alarms, but lack fire sprinkler systems.

The new troop quarters building will be two-stories and include a day room, fitness room, and elevator. The building will also have two rooms that are handicap accessible. With the exception of the handicap accessible rooms, each room will have two beds. All of the rooms have a television, telephone, refrigerator, and work station, said Deck. 

In providing improved housing it will allow for a better overall educational experience for the students attending the various classes offered at the schoolhouse.

With the updated troop quarters, the program will now enjoy a modernized learning facility that ensures only the best for our best.