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Expansion in the North

Apr 16, 2010

By Pfc. Blair Neelands

The growth and expansion of areas occupied by 1st Brigade Combat Team in Northern Afghanistan has amplified and improved since the arrival of the thousands of Warrior Brigade Soldiers.

To accommodate the increase in population, 1st BCT has continued the ongoing development by putting up tents, building offices and living quarters, and setting up contracts with local nationals to bring in resources such as water.

"The initial presence that was in the north was just a fraction of what we have actually brought into theater," said Maj. Melissa Eslinger, the 1st Brigade logistics officer. "So, we have taken what was here and expanded it. Everywhere you go you see 10th Mountain Soldiers who have made improvements and continue to do so. It's a never ending process."

The Brigade can't take all the credit; the expansion has been a combined effort with the Army, members of the U.S. Navy's Seabees and the U.S. Air Force.

"We have worked with the Seabees, the Air Force, and the Army," Eslinger said. "It's a truly joint and coalition environment here. The Seabees have been great; the pace at which they can continuously operate and build is amazing. They're so instrumental in establishing all of our bases."

According to Sgt. Maj. David Shaw, brigade operations sergeant major, there have been nearly 300 Seabees working hard to build up the base which will soon be occupied by the 10th Brigade Support Battalion.

"The Seabees are doing all the work out there," Shaw said. "They're putting up tents, putting in flooring, installing power generation, laying gravel, they do it all."

On Camp Spann the affects of the increase in population has been felt and seen by all.

"Here we have a brigade headquarters and two battalions where there was a battalion minus before," Shaw said. "The population has grown, the chow lines have gotten longer, the wait for the internet café has gotten longer, and the gym is more crowded; everything has been affected."

Knowing these affects, the Brigade has made adjustments and continues to plan to improve to counter the influx in population.

"We have opened up a grill on the side to help with the long chow lines," said Shaw. "We have built more tents to facilitate the growth in overall population and we have more shower facilities. We are still not where we want to be, but we're going to get there."

Eslinger said eventually they would like the services and expansion efforts to be contractor-driven.

"This will allow the Soldiers to focus on the partnership mission and the enhancement of stability in the area," she said. "This will allow us to build the power of the Afghan Border Police and other agencies. We can then focus on that part of the mission."

With the contracts, the brigade is giving back to the people of Afghanistan.

"We try to give contracts to the locals here to put money back to the surrounding community," said Shaw. "We are also bringing in about eight more venders to the bazaar here on Spann to set up permanent shops. Bringing in these locals guys helps put money back into the community and helps the Soldiers in the long run too."

Both Eslinger and Shaw agreed the expansion by the brigade is a work in progress, however, they both see the successes to come.

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