by Capt. Anastasia Wasem
438th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
5/13/2013 - KABUL, Afghanistan -- Shredded
paper, sawdust and water may seem unimportant to many people, but to
others it can mean fuel to stay warm or cook food. These are small but
vital comforts that members of NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan try
to provide to the people of Afghanistan on a weekly basis.
As part of Operation Outreach, a community service organization, members
of NATC-A spend every Friday and Saturday evening turning five parts
shredded paper, one part sawdust and 10 parts water into pressed "fuel
pucks" or "fuel bricks" that can burn for 20 and 40 minutes
"Making fuel pucks is the cornerstone of Operation Outreach here in
Kabul and has been for the last three years," said Tech. Sgt. Scott
Meadows, a 440th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron adviser and fuel
puck committee lead, deployed from the West Virginia Air National Guard.
"Fuel pucks may seem like no big deal to most, but when we deliver these
to orphanages or shelters we know we're making a big difference in
people's lives," Meadows said.
In the nearly four months that Meadows has worked on this project,
Operation Outreach has made and donated more than 1,600 fuel pucks and
more than 700 fuel bricks. The volunteers produce about 60 pucks and 27
bricks per session twice a week. This has added up to more than 60,000
hours of fuel for the people of Afghanistan.
"This is a rewarding way to spend my Friday and Saturday evenings," said
Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Griffin, a 440th AEAS adviser, deployed from Dyess
Air Force Base, Texas. "I get to work with my hands and help the less
fortunate at the same time. It makes me feel like I'm making at least a
small difference in the world."
The pucks and bricks not only provide fuel, but are also environmentally
friendly. The shredded paper is provided by offices all around Kabul
International Airport while the sawdust comes from the wood working
shop. And the process to create each puck and brick is very simple as
well. The ingredients are mixed into a large container, special molds
made by members of NATC-A are dipped into the container to be filled and
the excess water is then squeezed out of the mold by a specially
designed press. The pucks and bricks are then laid out to dry for about a
"In addition to the advising role that NATC-A does to train the Afghan
Air Force, this is just another way in which we're trying to help the
people of Afghanistan continue to grow and develop as a nation, "Meadows
said. "Any way we can help, big or small, we want to."
Operation Outreach not only helps to provide fuel to the people of
Afghanistan, but the members also provide food, clothing and school
supplies within the local area. Most of the items that are donated come
in care packages from family and friends back home.
"I feel that on an individual level we're making a significant
difference," said Capt. Jason Star, an adviser with the 538th AEAS,
deployed from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. "Every little bit
helps to make a big difference in the overall mission here in