News: Mongolian, US engineers team up to renovate school
Story by Sgt. Ben Eberle
NALAIKH DISTRICT, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia – Despite the generally arid climate in Mongolia’s steppe, rain poses a significant threat to a high school here. A multinational team of engineers and construction specialists are working to solve that problem during exercise Khaan Quest 2013.
Marines with 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, and soldiers from 96th Troop Command, Washington Army National Guard, have teamed up with the Mongolian Armed Force’s 017 Construction Regiment to renovate Erdmiin Oyun High School, kicking off the project, July 20.
Cracks in the roof and walls have caused leaks into the school’s classrooms and gymnasium and are starting to compromise the structural integrity of the building.
“The water is filling the cracks,” said Army Master Sgt. Andrew Haas, site foreman and operations sergeant with 96th Troops Command. “In the winter this water freezes and expands which is causing the wall to break away.
“The roof is getting fixed, the application of the emulsion to the walls will keep rain from getting into the side of the building, and the new windows will help keep water from getting inside,” Haas added. “All three together will slow down the decay of the wall and prolong the life of the building.”
The team is also building a wheelchair-accessible ramp at the front entrance of the school.
“This project is very important, especially for the local people,” said MAF 1st Lt. Tumurbataar Tulga, training officer for 017 Construction Regiment and Mongolian officer-in-charge at the site. “It’s even better because it gives (our militaries) an opportunity to share our knowledge and learn how to incorporate our expertise.”
1st Lt. Matthew Elliott, a platoon commander with 9th ESB and OIC of U.S. forces, has confidence that his Marines will not only play a large part in completing the mission, but that they will also learn from the experience during this year’s Khaan Quest exercise.
“The (MAF engineers’) work ethic is great, they come out here and they start working right off the bat,” said Elliott. “They do things differently out here … and the way they design their roofs is something we’ve never seen before.”
“Our precision will probably be impressed on them a little bit, and we’re definitely picking up some things from them … they can make things work without the most state-of-the-art tools,” said Lance Cpl. John M. Toniolo, a combat engineer with Alpha Company, 9th ESB. “We should both take away a lot from this.”
Exposure to different tactics, techniques and procedures provides a valuable training benefit to the exercise participants, but it will also leave a lasting impression on the surrounding community.
“I see kids walking around here, and I know that I’m not just impacting the Mongolian Armed Forces,” said Toniolo. “This is something that the local community needs to use, and they’ll use it everyday.”