SWIDWIN, Poland – When the average person goes camping and needs a tent, he goes to his local outdoor enthusiast outlet and purchases one. When the Air Force special operations community needs a tent they go out and purchase an ARRK.
ARRK, or Air Rapid Response Kit, is a system of specialized, highly-mobile tents that can be deployed with a team to create a self-sustaining environment for living and working. During the Jackal Stone 10 exercise, the eight-person team the ARRK requires for set up, travelled from their home base at Hurlburt Field, Fla., to set up a command and control tent with six planning cells for the 352nd Special Operations Group based out of RAF Mildenhall, England.
“The basic ARRK configuration entails living tents, shower/shave units, and a command and control dome tent structure that you can put up pretty much anywhere,” said 1st Lt. David Kohlhepp, the ARRK Team Leader. “It’s completely self-sustaining and comes with its own power, water, and climate control.”
In this instance, the 352nd SOG deployed to an established location with living quarters, so the ARRK did not require the shower/shave configuration.
“Unlike a lot of the austere environments to which special operations forces are usually called to deploy, this location has buildings that we were able to use for billeting,” said Master Sgt. James Jarvis, noncommissioned officer in charge of the ARRK Team. “We didn’t require the use of living tents with shower/shave units. The group required a work area and that’s what we created.”
As is its custom, the team arrived at the location in advance of the unit.
“It takes about a day and a half to set up,” said Sergeant Jarvis. “The team is made up of one specific individual from each career field within the civil engineer squadron.”
“So for example we have an electrician, a plumber, a structures guy, a heating and air conditioning specialist, a heavy equipment and horizontal construction specialist, a power production specialist, a noncommissioned officer in charge and an officer in charge. It’s essential to have one of each specialty on the team.” added the lieutenant.
“This is the second year in a row we set up the kit for the 352nd Special Operations Group,” said Sergeant Jarvis.
“I think it’s the flexibility of it,” said Sergeant Jarvis about the utility of the system. “We can go into places where we don’t need buildings to establish command and control or a bed down.”
“And just the ease of use; we can put it up anywhere there’s level ground and you have power and most of the components needed to run a whole command center,” added Lieutenant Kohlhepp.
The kit was recently put to the test during relief efforts in Haiti following the devastating earthquake there.
“The real benefit comes when you use it on a mission where maybe a hotel isn’t available or you’re not on an airbase or something,” said the Lieutenant. “The first operational deployment of the kit was for Operation UNIFIED RESPONSE in Haiti last winter. We sent three kits to provide shelter for our folks out of Hurlburt Field.”
While the kits in themselves provide great capability, the teams that set them up are just as important.
“We must have people who are skilled, because if they weren’t good at what they did, then all the technology in the world wouldn’t matter,” said Lieutenant Kohlhepp.