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Airmen build facilities for warfighters

by Tech. Sgt. Oshawn Jefferson
USAFCENT Combat Camera Team

4/27/2010 - CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- As 30,000 servicemembers continue to pour into the region as part of the troop surge in Afghanistan, a 15-man team of Airmen with the 1st Expeditionary RED HORSE Group here is building structures for warfighters.

"Our mission here is to construct the facilities that directly support the joint-coalition warfighter," said Capt. Nick Anderson, the 1st ERED HORSE Group officer in charge, deployed from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. "We have a young and energetic team; we're small but we are making a big impact."

Although the team has been in country less than a month, it's working on six projects worth about $2 million. The projects include a new RED HORSE compound, a metal building for the Army's inbound 502nd Bridge Maintenance Brigade, and the foundation for a new fire station. 1st ERED HORSE Airmen also are grading a burn pit, constructing an evaporation pond to collect waste water and building a river bed extension to prevent flooding; all to be completed by mid July.

"As soon as we arrived we saw an immediate push for us to get started on our projects," said Tech. Sgt. Alfredo Perez, the 1st ERED HORSE Group river bed project manager deployed from Nellis AFB. "As Air Force engineers, we are playing a big role in preparing our camp for the troops coming in. I feel like every project we are working on is making a difference and adding something useful to the fight."

While a regular RED HORSE squadron has between 70 to 130 Airmen; the team of total force Airmen have made adjustments with their limited recourses and personnel. Normal decisions that may take a month, now can take two days.

"When we do surveys, we normally have an officer and an engineering assistant survey a site and put it into a system to calculate the exact dimensions of a work site," said Master Sgt. David Hughes , the 1st ERED HORSE Group site supervisor. "Our guys have to do it with their equipment and draw plans by hand in a couple of days. With the troop buildup we don't have time to sit around to make a decision. We have to trust our guys and make a decision. It speaks volumes about the quality of Airmen we have out here doing what they've got to do to get the job done."

As the team works from sun up to sun down to get projects completed, the 14 pieces of construction equipment and three trucks the RED HORSE team uses have to continue running in peak condition.

"If there is daylight outside we are working," said Staff Sgt. Terry Broshious, a 1st ERED HORSE Group vehicle maintainer. "We cannot afford to have one vehicle out of order. We have a small team so we have to stay on top of all of our projects and as long as we are working, my team is going keep them running."

RED HORSE Airmen may be building the facilities to improve quality of life for coalition forces here, but they credit Prime BEEF Airmen stationed at the camp for having a plan in place for the camp before the RED HORSE Airmen arrived.

"It's great that Air Force RED HORSE and Prime BEEF engineers have the opportunity to team up at Camp Leatherneck," said Capt. Anderson, a native of Charlotte, N.C. "The outstanding infrastructure and contract management that they provide the Marine leadership here has enabled the camp growth to happen smoothly."

As RED HORSE Airmen continue to support joint and coalition forces, they're paving the way for a successful troop surge.

"I love getting the chance to show people what we got," said Tech. Sgt. Bill Walter, a 1st ERED HORSE Group vehicle maintainer. "The Air Force is here doing our part in Afghanistan and as the facilities go up, people will see the big impact a small team of Airmen can have."

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