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    As Bagram Air Field transforms, the garrison changes command

    Bagram Air Field change of command

    Photo By Maj. Devon McRainey | Former garrison commander Col. Christopher “Sam” Houston shakes hands with...... read more read more



    Story by Maj. Devon McRainey 

    AFN Afghanistan

    BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Garrison commanders changed command here July 21 in a ceremony presided over by the U.S. Forces-Afghanistan deputy commander for support, Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt.

    Col. Christopher “Sam” Houston relinquished command to Col. Stephanie E. Gradford in a ceremony attended by Regional Command-East commanding general Army Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435 deputy commanding general Army Brig. Gen. Mark S. Inch and 455th Air Expeditionary Wing commanding general Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark D. Kelly.

    Bagram Air Field has the largest airstrip in Afghanistan and is the busiest airfield in the U.S. Department of Defense. The garrison commander is charged with overseeing the base’s transformation as the International Security Assistance Force transitions from Operation Enduring Freedom to the Resolute Support Mission.

    “Bagram Air Field is going to be the theater gateway, and that makes it the critically important enduring base for ongoing missions here in Afghanistan,” said Houston. “It is perfectly suited and located near Kabul to continue in this mission and maintain the force posture that we need.”

    “Our mission required a downsizing of Bagram by identifying a 100 percent disposition of every building and billeting space on the base,” said Houston. “In the process, we have eliminated over 65 percent of wooden structures on the base and that project continues today.”

    The transformation effort at Bagram has had a positive economic impact on the local Afghan populace, as it has created the opportunity for them to provide short-term contracts while long-term services are reduced. These employment opportunities are in addition to the approximately 6,000 local Afghans who work on the base daily.

    “The people who live outside the base have seen expanded economic opportunity because of the additional need for the hiring of local national contractors on the base, everything from day laborers to engineering contracts, that provide assistance in repairing the sewer or water lines and other parts of our critical infrastructure,” said Houston.

    “These efforts have set the stage, at this point, for the final sprint. If I were to put this in football terminology, we are definitely in the red-zone now. Col. Gradford is going to lead the effort that is going to take this thing across the finish line,” said Houston.

    Gradford is picking up where Houston left off, transforming Bagram into an enduring base for the Resolute Support Mission while ensuring the protection of the base population.

    “Some of the projects we are working are the sewer system and the wells. The benefit of this is reducing the cost and the risk of bringing the water trucks in daily,” said Gradford.

    Along with the cost and security benefits from the sewer system and wells, the projects will also provide better, enduring services for the base’s population.

    “Garrison has a wonderful team, and Col. Houston has already built so many wonderful relationships with our partners,” said Gradford. “The key to getting stuff done and taking care of all of our folks on Bagram, getting to the Resolute Support Mission and making this an enduring base, are the relationships that Col. Houston has already fostered, and I will continue that and we’ll all get to the finish line together.”



    Date Taken: 07.21.2014
    Date Posted: 07.28.2014 03:33
    Story ID: 137504
    Location: BAGRAM AIR FIELD, AF 

    Web Views: 1,072
    Downloads: 1