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231st Citizen-Airmen travel to Honduras in support of new Air Force initiative

Citizen-Airman Capt. Jacob Colbert, a staff civil engineer officer assigned to the 231st Civil Engineer Flight within the Missouri Air National Guard, assesses a hooch-style building at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras in May 2016. Colbert, performs building assessments as part of a new Air Force-wide initiative to evaluate all Air Force buildings by end of fiscal year 2017.

Citizen-Airman Capt. Jacob Colbert, a staff civil engineer officer assigned to the 231st Civil Engineer Flight within the Missouri Air National Guard, assesses a hooch-style building at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras in May 2016. Colbert, performs building assessments as part of a new Air Force-wide initiative to evaluate all Air Force buildings by end of fiscal year 2017.

JEFFERSON BARRACKS, Missouri -- The 231st Civil Engineer Flight, Missouri Air National Guard, sent five officers to help inventory and inspect buildings at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, between January and May.

In the last year, the 231st CEF received the tasking to assess buildings as part of the new Air Force-wide initiative to evaluate all buildings before the end of fiscal year 2017 using the Builder Sustainment Management System.

"Our primary tasking was to assess the facilities and enter the data from those assessments into the Builder program," said Capt. Jacob Colbert, staff civil engineer officer with the 231st CEF. "The buildings at Soto Cano are the first for our unit to assess."

The Builder program provides a more proactive means of asset management and resource allocation. In turn, these knowledge-based principles have been proven to significantly lower the cost of re-inspections while providing more meaningful sustainment, restoration and modernization decisions. 

Between two trips to Soto Cano, five members of the 231st CEF inventoried and assessed over 300 buildings.

"It was a great mission to be a part of because of the joint services experience, overseas environment, training experience and the ability to use the software," said Maj. Emmett McClintock, Air Force Southern Command liaison officer. 

When inventorying the building, members of the 231st walked through each building and documented everything from the building's square footage to how many air-conditioning units the building has. The walk-through included the type of flooring, height of the ceilings and the overall condition of the building. The Builder program is a flexible tool and breaks down all components of the building, including: structural, architectural, electrical and plumbing infrastructure, Colbert added. 

"The inventory system was bare bones, which allowed us to set them up for Phase 2, which is inspection," said 1st Lt. Alexander Kramer, staff civil engineer officer with the 231st. 

The hooch-style buildings at Soto Cano gave the team a good starting point to learn what to look for and how to properly score the buildings, said Kramer.

Builder uses a 0-100 rating scale, which is based on a building's condition assessment that determines the life-cycle and predicted deterioration rates of a building.

Bil Hawkins, the manager of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center's Sustainable Infrastructure Assessment program and lead instructor for the Builder training program was also present at Soto Cano, which added a huge benefit.

Hawkins, who taught the Builder training to members of the 231st during the March drill, was able to debrief and give positive feedback to the members who performed the inventory and assessments while they were onsite.

"These trips were a very good field test for our young engineers and officers to experience," said McClintock. "We look forward to returning to Soto Cano and further helping in the process of assessing their structures."