Ms. Sandrine Prazeres, installation manager at Lajes Field and Captain Andrew Fenner, Air Force Institute of Technology’s Civil Engineer School planning instructor, work to illustrate a revised district boundaries map for the installation as part of the CE School’s consultation to develop a base master plan for the 65th Air Base Group. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Maj. Sean-Michael Kelly)
By Katie Scott, Air Force Institute of Technology
Instructors from the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Civil Engineer School provided on-site consultation to develop a base master plan for the 65th Air Base Group at Lajes Field in September 2021.
“Lajes did not have a base planner and were tasked to deliver a ‘re-imagined’ 1-year and 5-year master plan to USAFE to support strategic decisions on the future of the base,” said Maj. Sean-Michael Kelly, AFIT senior civil engineer instructor.
Lajes Field is located on the Azores Islands, a group of islands located in the North Atlantic Ocean approximately 900 miles west of Lisbon, Portugal. The island is home to the 65th ABG charged with enabling the movement of military members and aircraft supporting joint, coalition, and NATO operations as part of U.S. and Allied Air Expeditionary Forces.
The Lajes ABG team was under a tight deadline having only 60 days to complete the revised master plan. “Without time for a contract solution, and with very limited organic manpower, this was a very difficult task,” said Col. William Wallis, 65th ABG Commander.
Reaching out to the CE School for consultation saved the ABG time and money by avoiding the need for a contract with an architectural engineering firm. “They asked if we could support the trip in mid-August and they had a new plan by mid-September,” said Kelly. Additionally, contracted solutions often require a pre-determined scope. “With us, we were able to adjust to evolving priorities while on-site,” said Kelly.
In true instructor form, the CE School team didn’t draft the plan for the 65th ABG team – they taught the base how to plan while addressing their requirement. “The plan that was created was not AFIT’s plan, but Lajes’ plan because they did it with us. When the installation is involved every step of the way, they take ownership, buy into it, and become excited. They also understand each planning decision because they made them. So after we leave the base can still change and adjust the plan as new information or requirements arise – the plan becomes much more flexible, useful, and long-lasting,” said Kelly.
In the end, the ‘teach-and-consult’ construct produced a master plan on time and to rave reviews. “Every time I saw them working, they were grinning from ear to ear,” said Wallis. “The AFIT team not only left us with quality products, but also worked with our local POCs to teach them the process and educate them on managing the plan. They didn’t produce a plan to leave on the shelf, but rather enabled us to own the plan.”
The 65th ABG weren’t the only ones to benefit from this project. Consulting on real-world efforts allows the CE School instructors to bring relevant issues and challenges back into the classroom. “We can use the Lajes story as an example now, sharing their planning constraints and innovative solutions with students from other bases,” said Kelly. “Here at the CE School, consulting is one of our major mission sets - not only does it improve our courses, but it allows us to support the challenges that our installations are currently facing.”
AFIT’s Civil Engineer School provides technical and management-oriented professional continuing education courses to more than 12,000 students a year in a variety of subject areas to prepare our officer, enlisted, & civilian civil engineering professionals. For information about the School and its consultation services, visit www.afit.edu/CE.
Instructors from the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Civil Engineer School assess the underground utility systems with engineers from the 765th Air Base Group as part of the CE School’s consultation to develop a base master plan at Lajes Field. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Capt. Jorden Castaneda)
Instructors from the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Civil Engineer School brief the 765th Air Base Group Commander at Lajes Field as part of the CE School’s consultation to develop a base master plan at Lajes Field. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Susana Simoes)