News: Ala Jirga, Sallamat border police compounds near completion
Story by Karla Marshall
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is finalizing construction of the $7.3 million (Ala Jirga) and $6.2 million (Sallamat) border police headquarters compounds and inspected the sites Nov. 24 as part of a multi-purpose mission.
These two compounds — one nestled in the Kandahar province’s peninsula-like Maruf district and the other in the Spin Boldak district are along the Afghan border with Pakistan and are critical to improving security in the region.
Both projects started in 2008 and consist of the design and construction of site improvements and facilities to support the Afghan National Border Police. The projects include management, design, materials, equipment and labor for de-mining; utilities, roads, buildings, force protection, site security, fuel and power generation systems, and other components.
“Since August 2011, the South district turned over three similar border police headquarters compounds which are currently being used by the Afghan National Border Police,” said Fred Schelby, the project manager for both projects. “These two are behind schedule because of security threats and difficulties with some of the contractors.”
To mitigate for underperformance, USACE and the prime contractor have aggressively monitored progress with site visits since the summer of 2011.
Like many site visits to remote locations, the South District seeks to create multi-purpose missions that maximize value.
“Each time USACE visits a remote project site, we try to facilitate other missions as well,” said Lt. Col. John Carpenter, the South district’s chief of intelligence. “This mission was particularly complex because of the location and the distance from any appreciable NATO forces.”
Capt. Will Kessel and Sgt. 1st Class Jose Martinez of the 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade at Fort Hood, Texas, accompanied USACE to deliver spare parts for the border police’s High Mobility
Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, better known as the “Humvee.”
An Afghan Border Police command sergeant major, who recognized some of the border police for their accomplishments, Afghan mechanics and their U.S. mentors also visited the sites. Their mission was to help develop the capacity and professionalism of the border police.
“These site visits accomplished many things,” said Carpenter. “Our team got to inspect the site and the border police got to see a direct benefit of partnering with the U.S. military.”
To ensure security during the visits, the South district brought the 530th Combat Engineer Company’s Puma Team deployed from Fort Stewart, Ga., a physician’s assistant, an Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controller, plus several additional soldiers who comprised the traditional security detail.
“The planning and coordination effort that goes into these kinds of missions is overwhelming at times, but when the mission is successful, it is worth the effort,” said Carpenter. “You never know what is waiting for you when you get to these remote locations, so being prepared for contingencies is critical.