By Army Spc. Josh LeCappelain
Special to American Forces Press Service
Oct. 9, 2008 - They stand everywhere the eye can see -- brave warriors, tall and proud. Never flinching, never surrendering, these protectors never take time off – the thought never even crosses their minds. Of course, not a lot crosses your mind when you are made of concrete.
They are called T-walls, named after their unique, upside-down "T" shape. All over Iraq, wherever you see coalition forces bases, you see T-walls.
T-walls are designed to protect against bomb and sniper attacks, explained Army Staff Sgt. Mineris Figueroa-Agosto, West Liberty Logistics Support Area force protection noncommissioned officer in charge. "If you don't have any up, it leaves you exposed and a safety risk," she said.
Figueroa-Agosto said a variety of different companies and batch plants, including local Iraqi-operated companies, create the T-walls. "We go to them to try to increase the economy for local vendors," she said, noting that each T-wall costs about $800.
To meet Multinational Force Iraq standards, T-walls must be 12 feet high and 12 feet away from buildings to reduce the risks of damage to buildings or vehicles should a T-wall topple. Some T-walls around the Victory Base Complex are only 10 feet tall, but a project is under way to ensure that all T-walls fall within the required regulatory size. The T-walls now are composed entirely of concrete – a change from earlier versions that also contained Styrofoam.
When soldiers assigned to mayor's cells around the complex receive new T-walls, they carefully inspect them, ensuring that they have no imperfections that would limit their effectiveness. A 5-percent margin of error is accepted; a higher error rate could lead to vendors losing their contracts to create the walls.
Figueroa-Agosto said her logistics support area has about 2,000 T-walls, and she estimated that nearly 1 million T-walls are located around the entire complex – each nine inches thick and weighing more than 6 tons.
"When soldiers come back inside the wire from missions, T-walls give them one less thing to worry about," she said. "It's all about their safety."
The Task Force Mountain Web site features an ongoing discussion about what should be done with the T-walls when coalition forces leave the complex. Suggestions so far range from the serious and practical – "Ship them back to shore up the levees in New Orleans" – to the whimsical: "The world's largest domino chain."
To participate in the conversation, go to http://www.taskforcemountain.com/mountain-sound-off/19-blog/702-t-wall-heaven.
(Army Spc. Josh LeCappelain serves in the Multinational Division Center Public Affairs Office.)