For three years, RED HORSE Airmen have been rotating every six months to Air Base 201 in Agadez, Niger, to participate in the largest troop labor construction project in Air Force history. RED HORSE stands for Air Force Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers.

Nigerien Air Base 201 in Agadez, Niger is the largest Air Force-led Construction project in recent history. It’s 6000-foot runway will expand the Air Force’s ability to project air power to western Africa to combat growing violent extremists in the region. 600 REDHORSE Airmen spent 1000 days battling environmental and logistical hurdles to build the critical base in the Sahel region. Video // Andrew Breese

The Air Force built the base and its 6000-foot runway from the ground up. A similar mission had not been undertaken since Vietnam.

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A REDHORSE Airman guides a steam roller on freshly paved asphalt, at Air Base 201, Agadez, Niger. RED HORSE airmen had to overcome extreme heat, dust storms, plagues of locusts, and flash floods to build the largest Air Force led construction project in Air Force history.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Perry Aston)

Airmen had to persevere and innovate through the lack of an asphalt production facility in the country, thunderstorms that caused flash floods, dust storms that made it impossible to work safely, high-sulfur diesel fuel that fouled construction equipment and even a plague of locusts.

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U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Paul Waters, a vehicle maintance NCOIC with the 823 Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron, maintains the squadron’s construction equipment. Sgt Waters and his team battle the harsh environment and poor quality fuel that frequently breaks their equipment.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Perry Aston)

Despite working in one of the harshest environments in the Sahel region of Africa, RED HORSE finished a project that will allow aircraft as large as the C-17 Globemaster III to operate in western Africa, expanding the Air Force’s ability to bring air power to combat increasing extremist activity.