Coalition plans first building transition to Afghans

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Emily F. Alley
  • 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Afghan National Security Forces at Camp Hero in Kandahar province are scheduled to be the first in Afghanistan to transition coalition-maintained buildings to complete Afghan control.

On July 1, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan's Infrastructure Training and Advisory Group will transition 17 buildings to Afghanistan's Department of Public Works.

The ANSF has used the U.S.-built structures, which include dorms, showers, classrooms and storage space, as they train soldiers. The transition will provide a training ground for Afghan maintainers, who will be responsible for upkeep. Many of the electricians, plumbers and other tradesmen have no professional experience, but are learning daily, said Theo Achoeman, a contractor who helps supervise the maintenance of the buildings.

"We're at a critical stage, because we're teaching the guys who are going to be teachers in the future," Mr. Achoeman said.

The 17 buildings are a fraction of the ANSF compound, which has many more structures waiting to transition to Afghan control during the next several months. An Afghan flag was painted on each transitioning building to distinguish it and reinforce the idea of ownership.

"It's a visual reminder, and it's pride, too," said Master Sgt. Thaddeus Gravely, a member of the Infrastructure Training and Advisory Group. "I believe that the facility transfer is a necessary first step on the road to self-sufficiency and independence for the ANSF engineering teams. I also believe that given the fiscal realities faced in the United States, that this is the responsible thing to do."

Until they are transitioned, the buildings are maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This first transition of 17 buildings is estimated to save the U.S. about $630,000 annually in operations and maintenance costs, said Sergeant Gravely.

More money will be saved during each round of transitions, until the compound is completely eased into Afghan control. With each of the stages, the new maintainers gain experience.

"I believe the realization that the buildings are their responsibility now has energized them," said Master Sgt. Michael Brimhall, another adviser to the ANSF. "It is good to see them taking an active role in facility upkeep."

Although the final transition is not scheduled for several months, the advisors will be there not as supervisors, but as a resource to help their Afghan partners prepare to manage their facilities.