News: Tearing down, building up
Story by Sgt. Jarred Woods
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Soldiers of the 1151st Engineer Company, Alabama Army National Guard, 82nd Sustainment Brigade, 1st Theater Sustainment Command, have been tasked with a unique mission here.
The 1151st mission is an implementation of USCENTCOM Material Reduction Element. The CMRE was established to facilitate and manage the redeployment and retrograde of U.S. forces and equipment from Afghanistan.
As retrograde and drawdown operations continue, the 1151st utilizes their skills and abilities to reduce the building footprint throughout theater. The decrease of the operational footprint benefits the overall mission in several ways.
“We’ll tear down the building, then salvage the equipment and put it back into the U.S. Army’s inventory,” said Sgt. Frederick Frink, a safety noncommissioned officer with the 1151st and Huntsville, Ala., native.
The U.S. military currently has approximately $23 Billion worth of assets (down from $48 billion when the process began in 2011) in Afghanistan. This money-saving salvage operation also helps to greatly reduce the amount of building materials being brought into country.
“It’s great because we can take what we just torn down, take it to another area and build it back up if needed,” said Sgt. Shalae Morgan, a safety NCO with the 1151st and Huntsville, Ala. native. “It’s like we get to see something being brought back to life.”
Although these engineering efforts are being conducted within the confines of the base, the results have a direct impact on troops outside the wire as well.
“The work we do here is very vital because the material that we remove can’t be utilized by the enemy to make improvised explosive devices,” Sgt. Chris Sexton, a heavy equipment operator with the 1151st and Gordo, Ala. native. It greatly diminishes the amount of material they can get their hands on, he added.
In addition to their deconstruction efforts, the 1151st has also utilized their time on the job as useful teaching opportunities.
The soldiers of the 1151st are afforded the chance to train-up every soldier in the various skill sets within their field, added Fink. “We can cross-train our soldiers in carpentry, electrician work and plumbing.”
This valuable training guarantees that the Soldiers of the 1151st will meet all mission requirements established by CENTCOM with versatile and highly qualified personnel.
Throughout their time here, the 1151st are sure to leave a lasting impression, while saving the U.S. valuable money, time and resources.