News: Task Force Pacemaker prepares for the Afghan winter
By Army Sgt David E. Roscoe
Task Force Pacemaker PAO
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHARANA, Afghanistan- Task Force Pacemaker, 864th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), Soldiers are preparing for winter by adapting facilities in Regional Command-East.
Afghanistan winters can be harsh and difficult. Temperatures can drop to negative 15 degrees Fahrenheit with cold winds, snow, ice and heavy rain. This is an intense change in climate for Soldiers who just experienced summer temperatures of 95 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Therefore, the need for winterizing equipment and living quarters is a necessity to ensure the welfare of Soldiers.
"Winterization allows the task force to maintain a positive operational presence during the bad winter months," said Army Capt. Eric Parthemore, 864th ECB, Headquarters and Support Company commander, and West Liberty, Ohio, native. "It also provides comfortable working conditions and a safer working environment for the task force's Soldiers."
Many Soldiers assigned to Task Force Pacemaker are now living in hard shelters known as K-Spans. The K-Span living quarters are well insulated and most are equipped with heaters, providing a warm sanctuary for cold nights.
"The positive effects of this winterization project will be witnessed by all of our Soldiers and the outlying FOBs that we service," said Army Capt. Jorge Mendoza-Casillas, 864th ECB, Alpha Company commander, and Los Angeles native. "In the past, Soldiers around Afghanistan have endured harsh winters in remote areas. While we try to predict quickly descending weather, this area of the world is known for its unpredictability. We are trying to get teams to these remote areas and provide all Soldiers, to include all coalition forces, a winter plan, materials and expertise to modify their living conditions in order to manage the bitter winters here."
Some of the tasks that come along with winterization efforts include installation of back-up and replacement power generators, efficient heating units, installing and repairing wooden floors, installation and testing of electrical circuits, stocking of the FOB's fuel supply, installing and replacement of sand bags, complete living quarter interior insulation and preparing the engineering equipment for winter weather.
"Mentally, Soldiers can focus on their mission and stay motivated," Army Capt. Jason King, 864th ECB 585th Engineer Company executive officer, and Pasadena, Calif., native. "It's hard to be motivated when you're cold or you're equipment doesn't want to work because of the cold Afghanistan winter temperatures. Physically, it's a no- brainer; a cold weather injury should always be avoided whenever possible. So the importance is simple; it's the right thing to do to ensure Soldier welfare."