News>CE Airmen complete projects to benefit U.S., Iraqi army
Tech. Sgt. Chris Moffett ties down rebar under equipment lights during a nighttime dust storm at Forward Operating Base Caldwell, Iraq. The Airmen worked in shifts in order to finish the project at FOB Caldwell in minimal time. The concrete pads allow Soldiers a place to work on their vehicles without having to be in the dirt and mud. Sergeant Moffett is a heavy equipment operator with the 732nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Hansen)
Senior Airmen Dan Smith, Deion Williams, Airmen 1st Class George Farrington and Richard Simmons pour and rake concrete pads during a project to improve Forward Operating Base Caldwell, Iraq. The concrete pads will allow Soldiers to perform maintenance on their vehicles without having to lay in the mud. All are heavy equipment operators with the 732nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Josh Jeffreys)
Staff Sgt. Stephen Hansen grades an area of dirt to prepare it for pouring of a concrete pad at Forward Operating Base Caldwell, Iraq. Airmen from the 732 ECES Dirt Boys poured almost 1,577 cubic yards of concrete during three separate pad projects at the FOB. These pads will allow the Soldiers to perform maintenance on their vehicles without having to be in the dirt and mud. Sergeant Hansen is deployed from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Sergeant Hansen is a heavy equipment operator with the 732nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Josh Jeffreys)
Airman 1st Class John Owings saws wall studs to be used in the construction of buildings at the new Joint Combat Outpost Milledge, Iraq. The construction of the JCOP provides U.S. forces the ability to quickly respond and counter enemy actions in the Diyala River Valley. This area had been an Al Qaeda in Iraq stronghold and was previously considered a safe haven for insurgents in the Diyala Province. Airman Owings is deployed from Minot Air Force Base, N.D. Airman Owings is a structural journeyman with the 732nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Nicholas Lane)
Staff Sgt. Josh Jeffreys cleans concrete forms after a cement pouring project at Forward Operating Base Caldwell, Iraq. The concrete forms are used in the process of making pads for the Army motorpool Soldiers. These pads will allow Soldiers to perform maintenance on their vehicles without having to be in the dirt and mud. Staff Sergeant Jeffreys is a heavy equipment operator with the 732nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Dan Smith)
by Staff Sgt. Ruth Curfman
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
5/29/2008 - BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) -- Airmen from Detachment 6 of the 732nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron recently returned here from forward deployed locations where they were instrumental in building infrastructures for coalition and joint forces in Iraq.
One project was to build a joint combat outpost in the Diyala River Valley, while another project was to construct various concrete pads for a motor pool at Forward Operating Base Caldwell.
After members of the 1203rd Engineer Battalion's 224th Engineer Support Company cleared and leveled the construction site and installed force protection, the engineers from Det. 6 went to work.
"We constructed more than 25,000 square feet of living, dining and operations buildings from the ground up," said Staff Sgt. John Wernegreen, 732nd ECES Det. 6 structural craftsman, deployed from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. "This project gave the [U.S.] Army's [3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment] and Iraqi army [soldiers] a place to carry out their mission of controlling the battlespace around the Eastern Diyala Province."
"The area where JCOP Milledge was built had been an Al Qaeda in Iraq stronghold and was previously considered a safe haven for insurgents in the Diyala Province," said Army Capt. Timothy Hsia, 3/2 Cav logistics officer. "As a result of the development of the JCOP, U.S. forces are now able to quickly respond and counter enemy actions in the Diyala River Valley."
The work the Airmen from the 732nd ECES executed was extensive.
"The Det. 6 team planned, procured, resourced and established several life support functions at the JCOP, including a power grid, electrical wiring, generator set up and maintenance, heating, ventelation and air conditioning unit configuration and latrine and shower unit establishment," Captain Hsia said. "Additionally, they ensured all 72 living containers were wired for power and air conditioning units. The team also engineered and built several structures on the JCOP such as a civil military operations center building, the company tactical operations center and five Iraqi army buildings."
The project provided Soldiers with quality work centers and has had a positive impact on troop morale.
"The completion of this project gave coalition Soldiers a home, provided a facility for morale calls and Internet capability as well as the ability to establish joint operations with the Iraqi army," said Army Capt. Vincent Morris, 3/2 Cav Iron Company commander. "The new infrastructure also provides IA soldiers the same quality of living as the coalition forces."
In addition to providing Soldiers a better quality of life, the Airmen were able to witness first-hand how their accomplishments affect the bigger picture in the Operation Iraqi Freedom mission.
"I personally feel that I did my part to enhance the security and strength of the coalition and IA forces," Sergeant Wernegreen said. "This area was a stronghold of more than 300 insurgents for a long time. Now this area is patrolled on a regular basis by joint forces to eliminate that threat and win the war."
While Airmen from the structures section of the 732nd ECES were building the JCOP, the "Dirt Boyz" section, which is responsible for operating CE's heavy equipment, were working hard to improve conditions at FOB Caldwell. The Airmen were working directly with the Army's 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.
Both groups essentially fill in positions traditionally tasked to the Army's civil engineers. These in-lieu-of taskings allows Army Soldiers to serve in career fields where they are needed most -- on convoys and clearing roads.
"We poured almost 1,577 cubic yards of concrete during three separate pad projects," said Staff Sgt. Josh Jeffreys, 732nd ECES Det. 6 heavy equipment operator, deployed from Minot Air Force Base, N.D. "All three concrete pads will provide the Soldiers at FOB Caldwell a place to work on their vehicles without having to be in the dirt and mud."
By creating these concrete pads for the military at FOB Caldwell, Airmen were able to help the Army get back in the fight faster and stronger.
"The Dirt Boyz gave the Soldiers maintaining and operating tanks and fighting vehicles a facility that will help them to execute their missions better," Major Opperman said. "Getting the armor back into the fight is critical and the concrete pads the Dirt Boyz poured allows this to happen."
Additionally, the Airmen placed 1,800 linear feet of barriers around the munitions holding area and completely rebuilt the entry control point to the U.S. compound at FOB Caldwell.
"The ammo holding area project efforts ensured $5 million in military munitions are preserved and protected," Sergeant Jeffreys said. "We also placed 100 feet of Hesco barriers to enhance force protection measures."
To get to the FOB, the 732nd ECES Det. 6 Airmen convoyed almost 300 miles and hauled about $325,000 in assets to secure and support Soldiers at FOB Caldwell, Sergeant Jeffreys said.
"I couldn't be prouder of these Airmen," said Maj. Bryan Opperman, 732nd ECES Det. 6 commander, deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. "What used to be a pomegranate orchard and a vineyard is now a platform at JCOP Milledge from which the 3/2 SCR plans and executes combat missions with direct effects on the battlefield.
"In addition, what used to be a gravel yard, at FOB Caldwell, is now an area suitable for the maintenance of the Army's tracked vehicles," Major Opperman said. "My guys built it and now the Army is taking the fight to the enemy."
The 732nd ECES Airmen know they are directly contributing to the overall mission in Iraq
"All of us feel privileged to have the opportunity to get outside the wire and provide support to these Soldiers out in the field who do not have the luxuries that others have," Sergeant Jeffreys said. "Also, the Soldiers out at FOB Caldwell are very grateful and we are willing to do everything and anything we can to make their day-to-day operations easier on them."