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Not your typical doll house, CE starts next phase of bivouac project

Airman 1st Class Austin Pickhard, 434th Civil Engineering Squadron structural helper, puts the finishing touches on the floor of a doll house Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana Nov. 3, 2019. The doll house is one of many bivouac operations that are used for training and exercise purposes here. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jami K. Lancette)

Airman 1st Class Austin Pickhard, 434th Civil Engineering Squadron structural helper, puts the finishing touches on the floor of a doll house Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana Nov. 3, 2019. The doll house is one of many bivouac operations that are used for training and exercise purposes here. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jami K. Lancette)

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. --

Doll houses are typically thought of as child’s play, but for the 434th Civil Engineer Squadron it’s about critical mission readiness.

The 434th CES began phase III of a bivouac project aimed at giving Airmen hands-on structural training they'll use in deployed environments.

“The 'doll house' will be approximately 12 feet by 12 feet and will essentially look like a shed,” said Master Sgt. Dustin Fullerton, 434th CES non-commissioned officer in charge. “Once it’s built we’ll take it apart and continue to rebuild it as many times as necessary for hands-on training purposes.”

The project lets engineers practice wartime taskings at home - honing their skills in a safe environment. Its mission is just one part of the bivouac project giving Airmen unique hands-on combat construction skills training intended to simulate real world deployment scenarios.

“This training goes along the lines of our deployed responsibilities,” said Fullerton. “Sometimes we’re asked to put up a structure and materials may be limited. Having experience building a type of structure over and over helps you mitigate material waste.”

Temporary encampments with minimal facilities – bivouacs – are routinely used by U.S. Armed Forces deployed down range.

“There are so many mobility requirements that are not hands-on based, so having a bivouac site here is beneficial,” said Fullerton. “It really elevates our training.”

The benefits attributed to the bivouac doll house are not just limited to civil engineers, but also other squadrons around Grissom.

“The entire site is designed for a 96-hour exercise where we would set up everything and basically live, and work out of a tent city,” said Fullerton. “Other squadrons can also join in on the exercises.

“For instance, security forces can come out and train with different fighting positions, perimeter security and convoys, services can set up different down range dining situations and the fire department can use the structure for training,” added Fullerton.

Getting out from behind the computer and getting their hands dirty, that's the kind of motivation the Airmen need, he added.

“When I was a young Airman, at times it felt like you were trapped in the office,” said Fullerton. “Having a site like this now allows us to get out and work during unit training assemblies and get dirty for the day."

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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