Heritage and Infrastructure Investment

  • Published
  • By Maj. Derek Gregory
  • 422nd Civil Engineer Squadron

Starting with its beginning as Brackley Landing Ground in 1938, Royal Air Force Croughton has been home to generations of Airmen. In the early years, the base was a training site for Commonwealth bomber pilots and later served as the home of No. 1 Glider Training School.   Since 1950, RAF Croughton has been home to the United States Air Force, first as a communications satellite base of Royal Air Force Upper-Heyford and since 2004, as the headquarters of the 422nd Air base Group.    

Central to any Air Force installation are mission support personnel, who ensure the base and its community are able to focus on their mission and fulfill the routine of their daily lives. We are most successful when we are least visible—that is when our community can go about their day without worrying about the facilities or the environment they live and work. I may be biased, but I believe civil engineers do this better than anyone and are often all too happy to quietly work behind the scenes. 

The men and women of the 422nd Civil Engineer Squadron build, maintain, and protect our installation through engineering and emergency response services. We are comprised of military and civilian engineers, environmental professionals, resource and housing specialists, and firefighters dedicated to supporting our fellow Airmen.  Unique among our sister squadrons, more than 90 percent of our squadron members are British residents, including members from nine countries. Alongside our partners in the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and with our facility maintenance contractor, we provide the facilities and infrastructure that underpins our vital communications and command and control mission. We stand watch 24/7, ready to provide aircraft rescue and fire fighting in support of global strike and surveillance operations at Royal Air Force Fairford and to protect our families at RAF Croughton. We also provide furnishings and housing support to more than 2,600 joint service personnel and their families stationed throughout the United Kingdom. In short, there’s no aspect of our community that we don’t touch. 

Despite all of our effort, there’s no mistaking that our facilities and infrastructure are aging and rapidly degrading. As an air force, our installations are the foundational platforms from which we execute our core missions. Yet, over the last two decades, across the force we have made the decision to take significant risks in our infrastructure in order to fund other priorities. In January of last year Secretary Wilson and General Goldfein announced a new initiative—the Infrastructure Investment Strategy (I2S)—that will guide the way civil engineers prioritize and fund facilities sustainment, restoration and modernization projects in order to restore readiness to our installations. I2S will be a data-driven approach, shifting away from funding the worst facilities first, and funding upgrade and repairs to facilities earlier in their life cycle before they become too expensive to repair. 

I2S will focus on restoring and strengthening our installations in order to provide a sustainable, diversified and agile network of power projection platforms. These platforms—our bases—are vital to and must be capable of generating combat effects and supporting multi-domain conflicts with near-peer competitors. So what does this mean for RAF Croughton?  With the aid of our engineers, we’ll work to make our airbase infrastructure more resilient; we’ll prioritize the repair of mission-critical infrastructure while making smart investments to improve quality of life; and we’ll strengthen our installation planning efforts, optimizing the use of our existing facilities and divesting of those that are failing.   

Our squadron’s motto is “Make it Better, Make it Happen”. I2S won’t make things better overnight, but it does set us on a path to restore our installation for the better and ensure the mission happens. The men and women of the 422d Civil Engineer Squadron are up for the challenge.