Letter from the Front: 103rd CES Update

  • Published
  • By By Lt. Col. Jim Works
  • Commander, 103rd Civil Engineer Squadron
Happy Holidays to all the loved ones we left back home and support us as we pass the half-way point of our mission over here in Afghanistan. It was our turn to deal with bad weather in this part of the world this month as those in New England continue to recover from the damage from the storms. We got snow up north in Mazar-e-Sharif (MeS) and heavy flooding down south in Kandahar and Shindand. Luckily, we did not have to shovel off any roofs or tents, nor did it take days for the water to go down. We did have to repair some tents, clean up a lot of mud, repair some roads, and find and reinstall aluminum runway matting that floated away.

We have settled into our new roles and assignments and keep making a difference to the living conditions of our fellow military members serving in Afghanistan. The Expeditionary Prime BEEF Squadron (EPBS) team up north was busy finishing a 400-person life support area (LSA) at Camp Marmal, erecting 40 Small Shelter System (SSS) tents and ten latrine shower systems (LSS). A crew also spent the month out at FOB Ghwormach putting up SSS for housing, morale, and their dining facility in 20 inches of snow. In addition, another crew performed several Life, Health, Safety inspections and repairs, to include an important Large Aircraft Maintenance Shelter. The crew at Shindand spent many days finding and reinstalling AM-2 runway matting that got moved by their flooding, while some of the staff were stuck helping out at Camp Marmal while they waited two weeks for the weather to improve so they could return to Shindand. Many personnel assigned to the 777 EPBS hopped around Afghanistan to support surveying or construction inspection needs. Those who stayed back at Kandahar got to manage our 18 inches of flash flood water that brought in containers and equipment from some other organization on base. No matter what the challenge, the question in from all customers in the theater is still "When can Prime BEEF get here and get the job done?"

During the month, we had a surprise visit from the governors of Connecticut and Delaware. They stopped by and visited National Guard members in Kuwait and Bagram before stopping in MeS. The BEAR IV LSA crew put the last of the 40 tents up to show Governors Malloy and Markell how it is done and what the living areas for the troops look like. After a nice lunch discussion on how Connecticut was recovering from the storm, the governors got to sit in the company car, a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP), and then talked with the personnel to learn what Air National Guard civil engineers can do and how we can help them in times of disaster back home.

As we head into the holiday season, we appreciate the care packages, cards, and thoughts of all of you back in the United States. Thank you so much for your efforts. While we are physically separated from our loved ones, it is your continued support that allows this great group of Airman-Citizens to keep making a significant impact on the quality of life of both Coalition Forces and Afghanistan citizens. On behalf of the men and women of the 777 EPBS and the Air National Guardsmen serving the 577 EPBS, let me wish you all a Happy 375th Birthday to the National Guard, Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, and Happy New Year. May you all be safe and reunited with us soon.