News: Joint effort results in new aviation facility
Story by Capt. Katherine Zyla
By Cpt. Katherine Zyla
Multi-National Division - Center
TALIL, Iraq – Task Force 449's new aviation maintenance facility, originally scheduled to open Jan. 15, opened one week early due to the dedication and diligence of the Army, Air Force and civilian personnel tasked with its construction and outfitting.
"This project is an excellent example of good people from different services working together to achieve a common goal." said Lt. Col. Michael L. Fields, TF 449 deputy commander, who lives in Winston-Salem, N.C. "The end result is a productive aircraft maintenance facility that will provide support to all aviation resources in southern Iraq."
Airmen with 557th Expeditionary Red Horse Squadron, from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., played a critical role in developing the aviation intermediate maintenance facility in Talil, which will be used for all helicopter scheduled, unscheduled and phased maintenance as well as support aviation brigade operations, command and control center, and aircraft parking.
"The regional aviation intermediate maintenance facility will make an aviation brigade more effective because it is centrally located within the Multi-National Division - Center area," said Lt. Col. Robert. H. Burnside, Theater Aviation Maintenance Program executive officer. "The new location will help improve operational readiness rates and reduce transit times by streamlining maintenance operations and centralizing command and control assets, ultimately allowing an aviation brigade to effectively cover down on more than 80,000 square miles."
TAMP personnel outfitted the facilities planned and built by the Red Horse men and women. These facilities include a new aviation maintenance facility, a forward area rearming and refueling point, which they completed 60 days ahead of schedule, and aircraft maintenance hangars. Each is critical combat support for warfighters and have made this the largest repair facility in southern Iraq.
The Airmen also constructed aircraft parking pads and taxi ways, administrative facilities and maintenance hangers, totaling more than 60,000 man-hours and $3.4 million in project costs.
Air Force Master Sgt. Reid E. Fussell, operations superintendent for the Red Horse Detachment, said a project like this would usually take six months to complete; his team did it in three.
"The outstanding mid-level leadership, ability to form a cohesive team from the beginning, and the can-do-attitude of the team members helped make the project a success," said Fussell, a Rose Hill, N.C. native. "We were excited to be able to demonstrate what Red Horse does best, and that is build and repair airfields. We believed in the mission, kept positive attitudes and had the right equipment to make this happen."
The new maintenance facility will now be available for Task Force 449 to occupy and maintain flight hours, schedule routine maintenance and tend to unscheduled maintenance without losing time having to build maintenance work areas.
Approximately 300 personnel dedicated their time to the aviation maintenance project. The TAMP worked closely with organizations in and out of theater as well as some internal assets.
A small team of Connecticut National Guardsmen assigned to TAMP also used their civilian skill sets to improve work and living areas. Helicopter machinists, electricians and a cabinet maker built office furniture and setup electricity throughout the aviation maintenance facility.
"I have never worked with wood before and just learned how to build desks a few days ago," said Spc. James Dougherty, an AH-64D Helicopter maintainer. "It has been a nice break, I have had a lot of fun doing it, and I like knowing I am helping make accommodations nicer for the incoming Soldiers."