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    Multi-lateral effort provides Timor-Leste stability, security, education

    NMCB 3 Pacific Region deployment

    Photo By Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Fahey | Royal Australian Engineers from the Australian Defence Force's 1st Combat Engineering...... read more read more

    DUYUNG, Timor-Leste - In the rural Timor-Leste suko, or neighborhood, of Duyung – a small village roughly an hour outside Dili, the country’s capital, in the Metinaro province – the roads are dirt and kids run barefoot among wild hogs and chickens. Babies are bathed outside in small rubber tubs, doors and windows are left open in the evenings so families can enjoy a cooler, yet still warm, breeze and improvements to the local infrastructure are few and far between.

    For Duyung resident, and father of 10 children, Joaquin De A. Soares, his community has remained virtually the same during the past 30 years. He lives just 50 yards from the Metinaro Primary School. When he woke up Oct. 1 to see more than 20 Australian, American and Timorese engineers start building a new school, outside bathroom facility, kitchenette and playground, he was thankful.

    “We are very happy to have the new school and play yard for our children,” said Soares through a translator. “The work the Australians, Americans and Timorese engineers have done is going to help us provide an education to our children. For us, there is nothing more important.”

    In Timor-Leste, gratitude is freely given with an almost surreal sincerity. Each day, groups of people would visit the job site to thank the group of joint engineers who were brought to the small community in support of Sapper 13 – a multi-lateral exercise designed to increase interoperability between U.S. Navy Seabees, U.S. Marine Corps combat engineers, Australian Army Engineers and engineers from the Timor-Leste Defense Force (F-FDTL). This was the first time this type of exercise had ever been executed in Timor-Leste.

    “Metinaro was chosen for this project for a variety of reasons,” said Australian Army Engineer, Warrant Officer Bill Fry. “The Timor-Leste Defense Force recently added married housing to the local base here. That brought an additional 100 family members to the community and the school here had no way to support them. So, we decided that would be a good use of our skills and a fantastic opportunity to share construction techniques between our three services. If a natural disaster or real-world event were to happen that would pull our services together, having this type of exposure would help us better respond.”

    Metinaro Primary School Director Duarte Amara is currently responsible for more than 300 students. His teachers provide elementary level education to all children in the area, including Soares’ 10 children. Without the additional school house and related support facilities, the community as a whole would have struggled to provide what’s easily the most coveted resource in the country.

    “The students are very happy with their new building and are excited,” said Amara. “Previously, we were only able to teach three classes. Now, we can teach nine. The children are very proud to have this opportunity and one of the best schools in Metinaro … perhaps all of Timor. On behalf of our country, I say thank you. You’ve helped us provide our children with an education.”

    More than 20 joint service members from the three countries participated in the 28 day exercise. Each country brought with them specific construction strengths that were shared among the joint team.

    “The Timorese are stucco wizards,” said Builder Constructionman Nathan Carrasco, a Seabee with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3. “They have hand texturing techniques I’ve never seen before and will make me a better Seabee. I’m really thankful for the chance to be here and learn. It was a strong effort on everyone’s part. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard work – it was. The chance to make a difference was worth every drop of sweat.”

    Although small in numbers, the Sapper 13 team brought seasoned skillsets to Timor-Leste. Seabees from NMCB 3 were joined by U.S. Marine Corps combat engineers from the 9 Engineering Support Battalion (ESB), Australian Army Engineers from the 1st Combat Engineer Regiment and engineers from the F-FDTL. In short order, the team completed construction taskings that will strengthen friendships in Timor-Leste. These relationships will help provide regional safety in an area responsible for the majority of the world’s trade.

    “We are trying to demonstrate U.S. commitment and promote regional stability and security,” said Navy Capt. Rod Moore, Commodore of the Naval Construction Force’s (NCF) 30th Naval Construction Regiment. He is responsible for all NCF battalions in regular deployment rotation throughout the Pacific. “In order to do that, we have to build, foster and sustain relationships. Our Seabees get the chance to come out and work with the community. Not just to build infrastructure, but relationships at the local level which will sustain the security we are trying to keep.”

    In addition to supporting Sapper 13, Seabees from NCMB 3 are deployed to Timor-Leste to execute engineering civic assistance projects, conduct formal training with the host nation and perform community relations events to help enhance shared capabilities and improve the country’s social welfare.

    One of the first battalions commissioned during World War II, NMCB 3’s legacy stands strong in its ability to build and fight anywhere in the world as either a full battalion or as a group of autonomous detachments, simultaneously completing critical engineering and construction missions.

    For this deployment, NMCB 3 has split into nine details to perform critical construction projects in remote island areas such as Timor-Leste, Tonga, Cambodia and the Philippines. The teams will also conduct operations in Atsugi, Yokosuka and Okinawa, Japan; Chinhae, Republic of Korea and China Lake, Calif.

    The Naval Construction Force is a vital component of the U.S. Maritime Strategy. They provide deployable battalions capable of providing disaster preparation and recovery support, humanitarian assistance and combat operations support.

    NMCB 3 provides combatant commanders and Navy component commanders with combat-ready warfighters capable of general engineering, construction and limited combat engineering across the full range of military operations.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 10.26.2013
    Date Posted: 10.27.2013 07:27
    Story ID: 115786
    Location: TL

    Web Views: 218
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