WARDAK PROVINCE, Afghanistan - En route to a combat outpost, Company G Soldiers with 4th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment stopped periodically to inspect and emplace steel grates in the culverts that line one of the roads in Wardak province, Oct. 23.
"We started in known hot-spot areas or in areas that don't have eyes on," said Army 1st Lt. John Young, a platoon leader with Company G.
The steel grates covering the 24-to-36-inch culverts prove to be a benefit for Young, his Soldiers and local Afghan national security forces.
"With the culvert protection systems in place, it makes their job easier because they can see this culvert has been cleared, it has the protection system in it," added the Marianna, Fla., native. "Without it, Soldiers and the ANSF have to search the ground to see if there has been an IED placed which puts someone in harm's way."
While the rest of the platoon fanned out to provide a secure area, a welder and his assistant inspected the culverts.
Army Sgt. Salvatore Fatta, who came into the Army to weld, considers this to be his part of the fight in Afghanistan.
"I think just by doing this small thing, protecting these culverts, it will help everybody do their job a little faster and a little better," said Fatta, a Buffalo, N.Y., native. "I believe it's a great deterrent."
As Army Spc. Jody Conger, a mechanic, removed the tools necessary to install the protective grates, Fatta drilled into the concrete sides of the culverts.
Conger, who started working as a welder about a week ago, said that he enjoys learning and applying his new skill.
"I'm learning the trade," said Conger, a West Haven, Utah, native. "Being in a Forward Support Company, it helps to know more than one job."
Fatta and Conger construct the steel grates on Forward Operating Base Airborne and then head out on patrols.
I come out here and perform a mission that most people see as job being done only at home station, Conger said. Here, you're right in the fight with everyone else.
After placing grates on both sides of the road, Fatta began to weld them into place.
"The protection system is a tool to make that inspection process easier for everyone involved," Young said.