FORT LEONARD WOOD, MO. -- When Soldiers return to using Training Area 242 bivouac site in the spring, they are going to find improvements that make spending time in the field a little more enjoyable.

Recently, the 276th Engineer Company of the Missouri Army National Guard contructed 15 new Southeast Asia huts, or SEA huts, in the training area.

"These structures are designed to house the Soldiers during their Field Training Exercise phase of Advanced Individual Training," said Master Sgt. John Bakowski, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence G3 Operations.

"This is the best for both Guard and active-duty. We (Fort Leonard Wood) get labor for the construction and they (276th Engr. Co.) get to do a real-world mission that they are trained to do," Bakowski said.

The huts replace the need to erect general-purpose medium tents, which can be a labor intensive operation, Bakowski said.

The construction team was comprised of volunteers from the 276th Engr. Co. from Pierce City, Mo., said Sgt. 1st Class Randy Holt, noncommissioned officer-in-charge.

"We asked for volunteers and most of the Soldiers working here have experience in the civilian construction trade," Holt said. "All (of the Soldiers involved) are vertical construction

"It's really a good opportunity for the company to get this experience. This spring, we're deploying, but our mission will be de-construction -- tearing the forward operating bases down," Holt said.
The company is targeting 15 completed huts by Sept. 26, but if weather or other issues force delays, the post has another unit willing to come in and continue the mission, Bakowski said.

"The military police are the primary users of this training area and they have blocked the time to get the construction done," Bakowski said. "They probably won't be using the site again until after January."

While most forward operating bases on the installation have some SEA huts available, the new ones on Training Area 242 will be slightly different in design and construction, Holt said.

"The new plans for these will have improvements to make them more durable," Holt said. "We'll use ¾ inch plywood on the roofs, then cover that with metal, and that makes them sturdier to wind and snow."

The project is estimated to cost approxtimately $97,000 per bivouac site, officials said. In addition to TA 242 A and B, TA 229 is also scheduled to get an upgrade of SEA huts.

According to Navy construction manuals, the SEA huts originated in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam conflict as a means to create a semipermanent structure for Soldier living. The original huts were wooden floors and sides with a canvas roof, usually a GP-medium tent. Originally developed for tropical locations, the 16-by-32-foot huts have been adapted to serve U.S. forces worldwide and have electricity, plus heating and cooling, in some models.

The version on TA 242 will be a basic hut without heating, cooling or electrical systems.

Page last updated Wed September 25th, 2013 at 16:59