News: Built to last
Story by Capt. Richard Barker
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Anyone who has spent an amount of time camping with the Boy Scouts knows the first rule of camping is “leave it better than you found it.” The 25th Combat Aviation Brigade on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, has taken this simple rule to extremes.
With only a few months left before their replacement brigade, the 3rd CAB, enters theater, Task Force Wings is busy with several projects aimed at ensuring their operational spaces are left much better than when they arrived.
One project involves the replacement of AM2 matting on the parking and taxiing ramps known as Mustang Ramp West, which is home to a large portion of the brigade’s helicopters. The AM2 matting consists of metal sheets interlocked and arranged onto a soil and concrete mixture to create a hard, stable surface for rotary-wing aircraft to maneuver and park.
“Water erosion causes the concrete to dissipate which has created hollow spaces under the old matting,” said Mustang Ramp Mayor Capt. Kip Briggs, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 25th CAB.
Erosion also caused much of the matting to shift, creating a safety concern for the aircraft that rely on the matting for maneuvering.
To remedy the damage, the AM2 matting is pulled up, the ground is grated and repaired, and the matting is carefully replaced.
“The majority of the matting is reused, while warped matting is being replaced on a one-to-one basis by Marines out of (Camp) Bastion, who pulled up their matting from another project,” said Briggs.
Other projects led by Briggs include the restoration of infrastructure at Mustang Ramp ranging from improving water, sewer and electricity, along with building a fire hydrant pump house.
“Prime Power is coming to Mustang Ramp to eliminate 50 percent of the generators, which will significantly reduce our fuel contract,” said Briggs.
An important project was the paving of the most heavily-used road for the soldiers of the 25th CAB.
This was a project that almost did not happen, as the contract was not originally scheduled to pave the main road to Mustang Ramp.
“After analysis and seeing how busy Mustang Ramp was, we decided paving there was more important than paving other designated areas,” said Scott Swanson, a construction representative with the Army Corps of Engineers.
“It’s nice to know we are able to contribute to soldiers' living conditions,” said Swanson adding that control of the dust alone is going to make a huge difference.
The paved road and added culvert system also greatly improves work conditions during periods of rain where water used to flood the road and run into the rotary-wing maintenance bays.
An additional improvement to operations came when the 25th CAB command group and staff moved to a new brigade headquarters building, effectively bringing them three miles closer to their subordinate units on KAF.
“The new location of the Headquarters has improved our overall coordination and synchronization with the battalion task forces on Mustang Ramp,” said 25th CAB Executive Officer Lt. Col. Joshua Higgins.
Whether increasing operational control, improving working conditions or increasing the safety of rotary-wing aircraft, the 25th CAB will definitely leave Kandahar Airfield better than they found it.