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Power production farm keeps OEF base running

OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (AFPN) -- Just like a body needs food, a forward-deployed unit needs power.

Without them, neither will survive.

The 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer power production farm at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, ensures the base's electrical needs are kept well-fed.

"We produce every bit of power used by the military forces here," said Master Sgt. David Mose, power production superintendent deployed from Andrews Air Force Base, Md.

A base can not fight a war if it does not have power, he said.

It takes almost 5,000 kilowatts of power per hour to run all of the functions required to keep the base active, according to Mose. An average house uses 18 kilowatts per day. That means the farm produces enough electricity to power 6,200 houses in an average day.

"We use an incredible amount of power at this base," Mose said.

The process begins with a simple battery.

"Each generator is started with a battery cart -- just like you would (use to start) a car engine, only much larger," he said. "Once a generator is cranked, it begins to produce voltage."

The plant houses more than 30 generators, with about half of those designated as prime units that are constantly running. The remaining are backup generators in case of an extended power outage.

To prevent outages and other potential problems, the farm maintains control panels to keep track of the speed of the generator and how much voltage is being produced.

"All the important stuff we need to know at a moment's notice is monitored continually," said Mose. "We take readings every hour." Staff Sgt. Neil Chaves is one of the people in charge of the control panels.

"I love (my job) and the crew is great to work with," said Chaves, deployed from the 137th Airlift Wing at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, Oklahoma City, Okla. "Knowing that we are doing our part to ensure our nation's freedom gives me energy to wake up and tackle another day."

The plant is run by 17 people: nine are military and eight are civilian contractors. Of the military, five are active-duty, and the others are members of the ANG. Mose was just notified that he and his active duty coworkers have been extended an additional 90 days.

"I don't mind being extended," Mose said. "I stick to the 'service before self' core value. Otherwise, I would've left the military a long time ago."

Mose said working with other units on Al Udeid is critical to keeping the plant running.

"We have to coordinate with a lot of organizations," he said. "For example, if there's a mechanical problem, the electricians come out and help us. So it's a big team effort."

Even though their mission is critical, Mose remains humble.

"Yes, without us, the base wouldn't run," he said. "But that goes for most organizations here. We're just one piece of the pie."

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