By Army Capt. Ashley Dellavalle
Special to American Forces Press Service
April 15, 2008 - The personal security detachment here does far more than escort their commander and command sergeant major around the battlefield. "They are my go-to guys," Task Force Rugged Command Sgt. Maj. Frank C. Busch said of the 10-soldier element of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 36th Engineer Brigade, deployed here from Fort Hood, Texas.
The personal security detachment soldiers are on the road quite a bit. They have conducted more than 40 convoy patrols throughout NATO's Regional Command East, from Jaji in northern Afghanistan to Forward Operating Base Warrior, in the southern part of Afghanistan's Ghanzni province, in the year they have been here.
"We are the best section in this company," said Army Staff Sgt. Ian Roberts, the detachment's noncommissioned officer in charge. "My soldiers think we are, [and] I think we are."
The soldiers help support any mission. They assisted the 70th Engineer Battalion, of Fort Riley, Kan., in building a 110-foot bridge in support of operations in the area.
Roberts has taught his soldiers to be meticulous in their planning and execution of convoy operations. "My guys know their weapons," he said.
The personal security detachment's dedication to mission success is apparent in all the team does. When Roberts quizzes his gunners and drivers on their techniques, tactics and procedures prior to a mission, the soldiers spout off answers as if they knew exactly what question Roberts was going to ask next.
When the soldiers are not on the road conducting their primary mission, they work hard to make their forward operating base better. As the "go-to guys," the section has built everything on FOB Sharana -- from a trophy case complete with sliding doors for the brigade headquarters conference room to a full B-Hut that houses the contractors responsible for screening and issuing badges to local Afghans who work on the base.
Army Sgt. Michael Creed, of Masuary, Ohio, took the lead building the wooden B-Hut structure.
"Creed is one of our master carpenters," Roberts said. "He knows his stuff when it comes to carpentry."
Army Sgt. Duniel Mirabal, of Hialeah, Fla., and Army Spc. Marcelanni Jongoy, of Queens, N.Y., helped Creed build the hut.
Army Spc. Marshall Newman, from Royston, Ga., and Army Spc. James Linton, from Port Deposit, Md., showed their construction expertise while the detachment of combat engineers built two new offices, one for the combat stress team and one for the task force's public affairs officer. They also built counters and shelves for the base's post exchange and post office, as well as three living spaces for the medical team.
Army Spc. Jonas Turner of Kansas City, Kan., and Army Spc. Andrew Davis of East Orange, N.J., helped with the plumbing and electrical work while adding a bathroom and decking for the commander and command sergeant major's living area.
The soldiers of the PSD gutted the morale, welfare and recreation facility and rebuilt the interior to accommodate additional phones and computer stations. They also tore out the inside of an old operations center and put up the interior walls for a new medical aid station. All of these projects substantially improved the quality of life for soldiers living and working on the forward operating base.
Roberts said he sees his most important projects as the ones involving protecting the troops. "The team revamped the guard towers' windows, so soldiers on duty could have a better line of sight out of them," Roberts said.
Roberts gives most of the credit for this project to one of his team leaders, Army Sgt. Robert Goldhor, of Boulder, Colo., and the newest soldier on his team, Army Spc. Tristan Martin-Hower, of Grands Pass, Ore. The team also fabricated weapons mounts by welding metal parts together in each tower so that soldiers could better maneuver the weapons in the towers to fire.
In addition to augmenting various force-protection projects on the base, the team acted as FOB Sharana's quick-reaction force for about 45 days to allow other engineer units that were previously conducting the task to work on other infrastructure projects.
Roberts said he takes every task as an opportunity to train his men. His constant mentoring can be seen in every task the team takes on and the results they produce. Roberts saw the fruits of his labor during recent promotion ceremonies.
"My proudest moments during this deployment have been seeing the guys get promoted -- Specialist Creed to Sergeant Creed, Specialist Goldhor to Sergeant Goldhor, Specialist Mirabal to Sergeant Mirabal, and Private First Class Newman to Specialist Newman," Roberts said. "They deserved it."
(Army Capt. Ashley Dellavalle serves in the Task Force Rugged Public Affairs Office.)