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Source: CentCom.

05 December 2007
By Sgt. Wayne Edmiston
2nd Marine Logistics Group
.

AL TAQADDUM, Iraq – The AN/TSQ-120B is a temporary air traffic control tower used by Marines in expeditionary operations until a more sturdy structure can be built. Although designed for just 90 days of continual use, the one at Al Taqaddum Air Base has seen more than its share of sorties since it was raised during the early stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

After years of planning by previous deployed units, combat engineers with Marine Wing Support Squadron 272 were recently assigned to construct a new, state of the art tower. Working around delays caused by constant changes in the weather and aircraft flybys, the Marines poured the 30-by-30 foot concrete foundation and erected the prefabricated frame that will offer more capabilities to controllers.

The current expeditionary tower only allows controllers a 180-degree view of the airfield, but, once completed, the new one will provide an all-encompassing, 360-degree view, according to Master Sgt. Alexander M. Gutierrez, the Air Traffic Control Operations Chief for Marine Air Control Squadron 2.

“It lets (the controllers) work a whole lot better because they can see every aircraft they are working with,” said Gutierrez, a Kansas City, Kan., native. “It relieves a lot of pressure that comes with a challenging job.”

With more than 300 flights daily and 10,300 monthly, Al Taqaddum rivals most medium-sized commercial airports in the United States. The air traffic controllers here are responsible for ensuring the safety of all the inbound and outbound traffic, all of which is supporting the efforts of Multi National Force-West in Al Anbar Province.

The Marines working on the tower plan to have it completed within two to three weeks, according to the project’s staff noncommissioned officer in charge, Gunnery Sgt. Jason R. Gillepsie. “It takes considerable effort and a lot of skill to get something like this accomplished,” the Walla Walla, Wash., native said. And since it has taken this long to get a new tower started, the engineers said they are putting their skills to work and ensuring it is built to last above all else.

“This is going to be a structure that is going to be here for a while and a lot of people are going to see it and even work in it,” Lance Cpl. Michael A. Kemp, a combat engineer and Crawfordsville, Ind., native said. “It’s the gratification of getting to help your fellow Marines that I enjoy.”

Photo – AL TAQADDUM, Iraq (Dec. 1, 2007) – Marines inspect the metal frame of a new air traffic control tower. Combat engineers with Marine Wing Support Squadron 272 are currently constructing an air traffic control tower to create a better working environment for its air traffic controllers. Photo by: Sgt. Wayne Edmiston.

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Source: CentCom.

05 December 2007
by Staff Sgt. Travis Edwards
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
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AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) – Airmen are improving the lives and operating conditions of Marines by constructing more than $9.8 million in aircraft shelters, taxiways and temporary shelters at Al Asad Air Base. Deployed in an “in-lieu-of” tasking in support of the 20th Army Engineer Brigade, 557th Expeditionary REDHORSE Squadron Airmen are completing numerous projects — from the design concept to completion — in a joint service environment.

“We’re here working on a Marine base, taking on an Army job while using Navy parts,” said Master Sgt. Richard Kapp, the 557th ERHS cantonments superintendent and acting first sergeant, deployed from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. “It’s an odd process.”

REDHORSE is an elite Air Force engineer squadron, whose main function is to take a strip of uninhabited land and turn it into a fully functioning base with running water, shelters and power. The REDHORSE team currently has 14 assigned projects. Six construction tasks are underway, and six more are scheduled to start soon totaling $9.8 million. One project recently completed was a $65,000 convoy briefing facility, which included three temporary shelters.

“Having this facility complete now allows Soldiers and Marines going out on convoys to have a place to brief before heading out on dangerous missions without having their mind distracted by the extreme cold or heat,” said Senior Master Sgt. Rob Townsend, the 557th ERHS superintendent deployed from Malmstrom AFB, Mont.

REDHORSE Airmen also are building other temporary-shelters throughout the base. “One of our sites will house more than $1.5 million in Meals Ready to Eat that normally would have been thrown away due to the high heat in the summer,” said Capt. Andy LaFrazia, the 557th ERHS spoke commander for Al Asad AB, deployed from McChord AFB, Wash.

The engineers have faced several challenges as a result of the nontraditional nature of the deployment. “Getting materials we need for a project is a problem on everyone’s mind. It’s a brand new system,” Captain LaFrazia said. “We are getting used to it and are pushing forward, keeping our mind on the mission.”

The Airmen are driven to improve the quality of life of their fellow military members. “Everyone here wants to make a difference,” Sergeant Townsend said. “We all have the same focus of getting the job done and done safely.” “We are building a better way of life for all the servicemembers who live and work in Al Asad,” said Senior Airman James Cox, a 557th ERHS electrician deployed from Shaw AFB, S.C.

Photo – Tech. Sgt. Chris Collins cuts a 2-by-6 piece of wood to use as a frame for a bench Nov. 24 at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. REDHORSE Airmen are currently working approximately $9.8 million in projects here. Sergeant Collins, a 557th Expeditionary REDHORSE utilities technician, is deployed from Minot Air Force Base, N.D. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Travis Edwards).

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Source: US CentCom.

07 November 2007
By Capt. Michael Meridith, USAF
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
.

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan – A nine-person team deployed from 49th Material Maintenance Group at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., recently completed the largest deployable aircraft shelter in the Air Force.

The team began construction on the 225-by-70-foot aircraft hangar Oct. 22 and completed it Nov. 5. The hangar, which is intended to simultaneously house three of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing’s HH-60 Pave Hawk combat search-and-rescue helicopters, dwarfs the Air Force’s 150-by-70-foot “standard model” hangar.

“Normally, these shelters are designed to hold one aircraft. This is basically two and half shelters grafted together, and is the largest one like it in the Air Force,” said Master Sgt. Samuel Tran, of Salem, Mo., who leads the team.

Tran’s team, which deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in August, is the only one of its kind in the region. As such, it stays in high demand. Because of their busy operations tempo, Tran said accomplishments like the hangar are “just part of the job.”

Prior to its arrival here, the team had already tackled several large projects, including erecting three 6,000-square-foot shelters and one 4,000-square-foot shelter and dismantling one 4,000- and one 8,000-square-foot shelter.

“It’s very exciting, especially being part of a unique team that goes out and does stuff like this,” said team member Staff Sgt. Adam Boubede, of New Orleans. “We go out and get the job done as fast as we can, then move on and do it again. Everywhere we go, it’s something new, whether it’s repairing, reconstitution or building the biggest (deployable aircraft hangar) in Air Force history.”

The four-month deployment is a first for several of the team members, but many are satisfied to put home-station training to use in support of expeditionary missions. “It’s a good feeling,” said Senior Airman Brad Hellberg, of Lancaster, Pa. “Without us, they wouldn’t have the shelter. Back at home we train for this, then we come out here and do the work.”

Tran said the team members have received a tremendous amount of positive feedback for their work, but added that their motivation is something that comes from within the team itself.

“We look at each job as a challenge and see if we can beat our own record. Our motivation is internal; it’s not something that comes from the outside. We don’t compromise safety for speed; it has to be a marriage between the two,” Tran said.

Photo – Airmen deployed to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., work to build the largest deployable aircraft shelter in the Air Force. U.S. Air Force photo.

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