627th CES finds their way with land nav

By Staff Sgt. Naomi Shipley, 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs on March 2, 2017

More than 50 members of the 627th Civil Engineer Squadron participated in a land navigation course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Feb. 16, as part of their annual training requirement.

The group spent three hours in a classroom learning the basics of land navigation including map orientation and grid coordinates, prior to putting their training to use.

Master Sgt. Justin Cruz, 627th CES readiness and emergency management flight chief, oversaw the training and said the squadron was conducting their monthly Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force, also known as Prime BEEF training.

"We do this monthly to prepare us for contingency training," said Cruz. "Since our job (during a deployment) is to establish bare bases, sustain bases and to reconstitute them, this training keeps us ready to deploy at any time. That way when a tasking comes down, we're prepared to carry our own weight."

The 627th CES typically conducts joint land navigation and convoy training with the Army prior to deployments where they will be working outside the wire, but this time they teamed up with the 627th Security Forces Squadron.

For the second part of their training, the groups were supposed to travel 1,500 meters to get to three different coordinates with an expected completion time of approximately two hours.

Staff Sgt. Jesse Reyes, 627th SFS combat arms instructor, taught the land navigation classroom portion to the group as well as oversaw the hands-on portion.

"The purpose behind this is to get the basic intent of land navigation, it's going old school and basically not relying so much on technology," said Reyes. "Land navigation is a trade and definitely a perishable skill, but it is something everyone should all have a basic knowledge of."

The hands-on portion took approximately two hours and each group successfully reached their coordinates using the knowledge they gained regarding map orientation, a compass and their azimuth, which is their point of direction.  

"The goal today was just to validate the basics learned in the classroom, simply getting from point-A to point-B," said Reyes.  "The students did well, they oriented the map well, found their starting location from their coordinates and found their way back."

Cruz said overall the training was very successful.

"I think they did great," said Cruz. "First off, everyone had a positive attitude and they were all ready and willing to learn something new."

For some of the airmen, it was their first time learning land navigation, and it can be quite challenging as they navigate by pace count with a compass, while simultaneously navigating through thick brush in the forest, stated Cruz.

"It's a team effort and fortunately our command team fully supports all of our training, and they are constantly trying to get us better resources to do more training," said Cruz. "Our airmen are always ready and willing to learn something new. ‘Is there room to grow?' Always, but these guys always impress me, every day."