CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – Faced with decreased defense budgets and limitations under sequestration, top Army leadership is discussing the way forward with fewer resources and a fluid mission. Here at Camp Arifjan, the Soldiers of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 19th Engineer Battalion, are focused on options to save money and recycle resources while accomplishing their mission.
When 1st Lt. Joseph Brincat, the construction effects platoon leader for HHC, 19th Engineer Battalion, and his Soldiers were tasked to build a sidewalk in the high-traffic area near the USO and Zone 6 Post Exchange, they opted to repurpose supplies from a nearby building set to be demolished. He said they were able to utilize wood and bricks at a conservative cost savings of approximately $25,000. The wood they were able to salvage, which is expensive to bring into Kuwait, was also untreated and therefore better suited to high temperatures.
“We understand that the Army is cutting down, budgets are smaller. We’re always looking for a way to do a project cost effectively,” said Brincat. “With a project like this, time is also a factor. In the Construction Effects Platoon, we pretty much gather the best Soldiers from the battalion. I have 11 guys to do a project which a 35-40-man platoon would be typically be tasked with, but they’re out here working hard, really hard. Soldiers are resources too, and these guys are getting the job done.”
The sidewalk will replace plastic matting which is slick and uneven, thereby reducing the risk for Soldier injury and improving the overall look of the area. The detail received the supplies on April 2 and is scheduled to complete the project by May 24. Two separate shifts are working to accomplish the sidewalk mission. Rather than obstructing the PX, the majority of the hands-on construction work happens at night. Soldiers and civilians living in the area have already taken note of the work in progress and have responded positively.
“We get on the ground quick, and we get the job done, but these Soldiers take pride in their work, especially with a high visibility project like this. They have been getting a lot of compliments on how nice the sidewalk looks and how much the people who live here appreciate it,” said Brincat.
Separately, the unit recently transitioned to a new motorpool and oversaw the cleanup and turn-in of many supplies which had been stockpiled at their previous location. The project leader, 1st Lt. Valentino Pase, the executive officer for HHC, 19th Engineer Battalion, said the turn-in resulted in a savings of approximately $236,000.
The engineers redistributed generators and air compressors for use by other units, turned in broken metal and wood pieces to the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Officer (DRMO) and Camp Arifjan Recycling Facility and salvaged odd items like marble flooring and sinks. These supplies had been left by previous units and in place, in some cases for a decade, prior to the turn in.
For Pase, it was a matter of letting nothing go to waste, if he could help it.
“We want to be good stewards of the government’s money, especially with things that were given to us by taxpayers. By turning it back in, other Soldiers and units that need them will be able to use them for their missions,” said Pase. “It’s always good to have in your mind to recycle.”
He also said that he felt it was his responsibility as a leader to encourage his Soldiers to look for ways to repurpose supplies and save money, using the old adage, that one man’s trash, is another man’s treasure.