Friday, April 06, 2012
From the Ground Up: Seabees Build Compound for US Marines Advising Afghan Police
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Carmichael, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11 Public Affairs
HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan (NNS) -- Seabees deployed to Afghanistan are manning defenses and constructing a compound in the Lashkar Gah District to support U.S. Marines who will advise Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP) and prepare them for a smooth transition upon the eventual draw-down of U.S. and allied forces.
Det. Bost, a detachment of Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 departed the battalion's main body in March with equipment, materials, and supplies to set and maintain defensive positions while constructing a sustainable compound for U.S. Marines.
The compound will include everything from power and communications capabilities to berthing, dining facilities, office spaces, and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation buildings.
"This is a unique mission because Seabees are providing security for the site and making force protection improvements to include placing concertina wire and Hescos," said Lt. Kimberly I. Mazur from Pembroke Pines, Fla., Det. officer in charge.
According to Cmdr. Lore Aguayo, commanding officer of NMCB-11, Seabees' mission is to support the Marine Air-Ground Task Force by providing a full spectrum of general engineering and combat engineering support required during security and stability operations.
"That is exactly what our Seabees at Det Bost are doing," said Aguayo.
Typically, Seabee project sites are secured by Marines, thus allowing the Seabees to arrive and begin construction. For this site, however, Seabees arrived with personnel dedicated to security and other crews dedicated to construction. A small element of Marines is currently on site to facilitate a smooth transition of the compound when the Seabees depart at the end of the project. This type of interaction exemplifies the fluidity of the joint service relationship between the Marine Corps and the Seabees of the Navy.
"Seabees are extremely proud to be able to support the Marines in I MEF (Forward)," said Aguayo. "Missions such as this one will continue to strengthen the strong relationship we have built with the Marine Corps through war and peacetime."
In reference to her conversation with Marine Corps Lt. Col. Brent A. Weathers, Operation Coordination Center-Regional Senior Advisor, Aguayo said, "He had just finished a tour of the project and said he had been on the site a few weeks prior and was extremely impressed on the progress that was made during that short time frame, with seven of the nine buildings erected."
Weathers expressed to Aguayo his sincere appreciation for all the hard work the Seabees are putting into completing the project.
Builder 1st Class Brandon B. Audie from Saco, Maine, is the Project supervisor for the construction crews.
"Some of the challenges our Det. faces are supply runs where adverse weather conditions and current significant events in the surrounding area dictate whether we get resupplied or not," he said.
The local concrete batch plant broke down which delayed final concrete placements by a week.
"Luckily, there has been plenty of work to do, so we switched focus to continue making forward progress. After all, Seabees 'can do,'" said Mazur, referring to the can-do attitude for which Seabees are known.
"Once we start working on the inside of these buildings we have a lot of intricate cuts to make," said Builder 2nd Class Sean E. Roberts, from Archbald, Pa.
As project crew leader, Roberts leads four crews in building nine pre-engineered buildings on the compound.
"It won't be easy," said Roberts. "The heat is picking up now too, but the crew continues to do outstanding work, and I'm glad to be the crew leader of this project."
Morale remains high, and two things the Seabees anticipate most, according to Mazur, are mail and energy drinks.
Meals Ready to Eat, are served for breakfast and lunch daily, and dinner usually consists of Unitized Group Rations. On rare occasion, the Seabees have well-prepared local cuisine, which the majority claim to enjoy.
Roughly one week ahead of schedule, the Det. Bost Seabees of NMCB-11 expect to turn over the completed compound to Marine Advisor Teams sometime in May.
Homeported in Gulfport, Miss., NMCB-11 is deployed to Afghanistan to conduct general, mobility, survivability engineering operations, defensive operations, Afghan National Army partnering and detachment of units in combined/joint operations area - Afghanistan in order to enable the neutralization of the insurgency and support improved governance and stability operations.