LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – It is the Afghan National Army’s duty to help build a better Afghanistan, but building things up starts at home. For the 201st ANA Corps, building continued Nov. 11, 2013, at their home on Forward Operating Base Gamberi.
The 201st ANA Corps Engineer Kandak’s Horizontal Company began work on their first major project, building a cool-down yard.
A cool-down yard is a secured, fenced-in staging area where vehicles bringing supplies and materials onto the FOB go through an inspection process so the soldiers can ensure the truck is what it’s supposed to be. Vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices are one of the main threats facing bases in Afghanistan.
There is no set timetable for how long a vehicle will be required to stay in the cool-down yard while the soldiers are confirming the authenticity of the delivery.
“It is a major security measure,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Howard Barcus III, engineering advisor, 149th Vertical Construction Company, attached to 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Task Force Patriot Security Force Advise and Assist Team, from Lexington, Ky. “This is really going to help not just the 201st Corps but the 4th Brigade Soldiers on Gamberi as well.”
The project also marks the first joint effort between the Corps Engineer Kandak’s horizontal and vertical companies.
Horizontal operations include landscaping, levelling and roadway construction. Vertical engineers, on the other hand, handle carpentry, plumbing, masonry, and some units also perform electrical work.
It is the horizontal engineers’ job to level the cool-down yard, cutting and filling the needed area, and provide adequate drainage, while the vertical engineers are in charge of erecting the fence that will surround the yard.
“They have great young noncommisioned officers and young, ambitious soldiers who want to learn and do good work; so I’ve got really high hopes for what they’re going to do on this project,” said 1st Lt. Justin Zaleski, an engineer adviser to 201st Corps with 4th Bde, 10th Mtn. Div., from Havertown, Pa.
The CEK created the designs for the project with minimal input from 4th Bde, 10th Mtn Div. advisers. The cool-down yard’s actual construction is completely ANA-led and executed.
“It’s really nice to see them take more autonomy and to be able to use their ANA leadership more to control the job site while just using us for confirmation of what they already believe,” said Zaleski.
Many of the project’s 201st Corps engineers recently completed Coalition Force-provided training on new bulldozers and scrapers they’re using to complete this project.
“We just got done training on the bulldozer and the rest of the equipment and they all graduated and got their certificates,” said Barcus. “This is taking all those skills and putting them into one big project, an actual project, for the corps. It’s something they can be proud of every time they come in and out of the gate.”