By Army Pfc. Bethany L. Little
Special to American Forces Press Service
Aug. 18, 2009 - Despite the threat of sandstorms and extreme heat Aug. 6, the Multinational Division South command sergeant major visited soldiers of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, to view the improved living conditions and morale at this patrol base. "I came to see how conditions have improved since the last time I was here," said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Doug L. Julin. "I have to say I'm very impressed by the leadership and the spirit of the soldiers here."
Julin toured the company's aid station, headquarters building, dining facility, key leader engagement room and improved ranges.
"When the company first arrived, barely any of this was here," said Army 1st Sgt. Richard A. Mitchell, the company's first sergeant. "We've improved force protection, training and personal comfort levels."
The Multinational Division South force-protection team identified the need for the improvements two months ago after determining the patrol base was austere and offered undesirable living conditions. Company leadership looked at the team's suggestions and comments and began planning improvements.
Soldiers created supplemental movable fighting positions to improve force protection. Training facilities were another focus for the company, which included redesigned ranges and new urban-terrain training facilities.
"As an infantryman, one can never have enough training, so we created a training house that resembles many of the houses in Iraq," Mitchell said. "It has a right-hand-shooter room, a left-hand-shooter room and a long, narrow hallway that the soldiers must negotiate."
Personal comfort was another aspect the company looked to improve.
"There's a difference between taking care of soldiers and [having] pampered soldiers," Mitchell said. "My guys live in tents, and air conditioners can only do so much. We received tent foam kits from division and placed the foam on the majority of the tents, which keeps the temperature within the tents about 20 to 25 degrees cooler."
Renovated training facilities and updated bathrooms have improved conditions for the soldiers here, and Julin said that will help with mission accomplishment.
"When the soldiers are supported the way they are here, then they are more likely to do whatever their leadership asks of them," he said. "It is evident that the soldiers are happy, and they really want to be here."
(Army Pfc. Bethany L. Little serves with the 172nd Infantry Brigade.)