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CE Airmen assist with Iraq drawdown

by Master Sgt. Dwayne Gordon
AFCENT Public Affairs

4/28/2010 - AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq (AFNS) -- Airmen from the 732nd Expeditionary Prime Beef Squadron are assisting with preparations for the increase of U.S. military members who have started to arrive as military officials begin to drawdown of U.S. military forces in Iraq.

As members of the facility engineer team, a group of engineer assistants have set out to survey and provide visual representation of this 18 square mile installation. Their surveys will be used for construction management, base maps and drafting projects that will help use land and infrastructure for more than Soldiers transitioning through the base from now until August.

"In preparation for the increase of military personnel arriving, one of the base command group's priorities is to consolidate personnel to the center of the base," said Staff Sgt. Dennis Jones, the 732nd EPBS expeditionary geographical information officer. "At this time, some personnel are scattered on the outskirts of the base, by consolidating them to the center, this will open up areas for the incoming Soldiers"

One project the engineer assistants have been working on is base mapping.

"A lot of the unit commanders are requesting base maps," said Sergeant Jones, deployed from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. "Through the electronic mapping programs we use, we are able to create very detailed maps that have the ability to show which facilities are being occupied and which unit is occupying them. This type of detail is very popular by base leadership, because they use our maps to determine building and land use."

The engineer assistant skill-set is an important asset for the Air Force and is requested in high demand in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are scheduled to be deployed six months and then home for six months.

"Our popularity in theater may be because our products can be used for an array of different things," said Lt. Colonel Mike Spaulding, the 732nd EPBS officer in charge of the facility engineer team. "Here, our main priority is base planning in support of the Base Command Group. While our mission here is focused on base support, we do have (engineer assistants) throughout Iraq with more of a nation building mission."

"We are a versatile team of professionals," said Colonel Spaulding, deployed from the Oklahoma City Air National Guard. "We can conduct base surveys and assessments for military drawdown purposes or we can go into Iraqi communities to conduct a facility assessment on local schools."

The first group of Soldiers have arrived and are expected to bed down here for a few days and then depart on a direct flight that will take them from Iraqi soil to American soil.

"1,700 Soldiers arrived this past weekend," Colonel Spaulding said. "We have assisted the BCG in planning to accommodate the 30,000 Soldiers throughout the summer allowing for the successful redeployment of drawdown personnel."

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