CAMP SHORABAK, Afghanistan - A building inspection is a simple way to signify the coming turnover of responsibility of building maintenance for the Afghan National Army.
Engineers from NATO Training Mission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a walkthrough of six ANA buildings on Camp Shorabak in Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 26.
The six buildings will be part of 17 turned over to the ANA in mid-May, said U.S. Army Capt. David Hamilton. By July, 73 buildings on the camp – about 25 percent – will be turned over, explained Hamilton, the executive officer of NTM-A’s Regional Support Command Southwest’s Infrastructure Training Advisory Group.
“That’s really our mission: to hand this over,” Hamilton said. “It’s a good coalition effort that we’re up against a hard deadline.”
The Danish army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army and contractors are working with the ANA to meet that deadline.
The engineers, who conducted the building walk through looked for major problems like cracks along the seams of the floor and walls and the broken lights, will create a “punch list” or a to do list and contractors will do the final repairs, explained U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jeffry Mays, an ITAG adviser.
“We need to make sure all doors work, all locks lock, and the fans are balanced,” said Steve Prudence to Hamilton and U.S. Army Maj. Burlin Emery, the head adviser with ITAG. Prudence is an USACE engineer.
“Our belief is once the Afghans get used to maintaining some buildings, they’ll be ready for the other ones,” Emery said during the walk through. “It’s about the process.”
The small scale of the turnover will make it easier to deal with, Emery explained. Nothing can be turned over until an ANA colonel approves.
“Items that are broken through abuse or misuse, then I’m not going to take care of that,” Prudence told the ANA colonel. “Most of this stuff isn’t from abuse it just needs to be repaired.”
Prudence said he was looking for really glaring problems and it appeared the problems - unbalanced fans, broken doors, and broken water faucets - were the same throughout the inspection. They were also things found in barracks back in the U.S., Emery and Prudence said.
“Tell him he was smart to bring me in here because of this leak in the roof,” Prudence asked a linguist to tell the ANA colonel. The leaky roof will be addressed through a work order.
Currently the buildings are maintained by 80 Afghans hired by RSC-SW and taught by Mays. They’re about halfway through an eight-month training process with three phases, Mays said. First was a safety phase, the second was skills training in trades like plumbing and wiring. The last phase will be on-the-job-training, Mays explained.
“We’re teaching them to look for problems and fix when they find it, the instructors teach them how to fix it,” Mays said.
The workers are all civilians but they’re led by Afghan National Army officers from the 215th ANA Corps, Mays explained.
ITAG’s goal is get the ANA to hire them, Emery said.
Prudence said he was surprised things are in as good a shape as they’re in. Some preventative maintenance inspection hadn’t been done but that’s why they did the walk through, he explained.
Repairs noted on the punch list will be finished, Prudence said. The buildings will be handed over and “that’s when the games begin,” Prudence added.
The final building walk through will happen in mid-May to make sure everything was fixed.
“We have a lot of work,” Prudence noted.
The future repairs Emery and Prudence saw were pretty minimal.
“I’m actually impressed on how they’re maintaining them,” Emery said. “It’s a lot of little things.”
“What we’re trying to do is set these guys up for success,” Prudence said between building inspections.