124th Engineers continue efforts to enable base closures, transfers in Afghanistan
December 24, 2013
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Dec. 24, 2013) -- Platoons from the 124th Engineer Company, attached to the 489th Engineer Battalion and the 82nd Sustainment Brigade-U.S. Central Command Materiel Recovery Element, also known as SB-CMRE, have been participating in multiple projects in and around Kandahar Airfield, which help with the transfer or the complete closure of forward operating bases, combat outposts and camps throughout Afghanistan.
The projects include deconstruction efforts that return many bases to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as U.S. forces prepare to eventually redeploy from Afghanistan.
During one such recent project, the company's first platoon teamed with engineers from the 1223rd Eng. Company, also attached to the 82nd SB-CMRE, to deconstruct earth-filled barriers, move concrete T-wall barriers into caches, remove trash burn pits and close a test fire pit at Combat Outpost, or COP, Luke throughout late November and early December.
The deconstruction project was the platoon's first mission that required them to live and operate in an austere environment with limited amenities, and the Soldiers said it was a worthwhile experience.
"This project was a great experience for me, being that this was one of our first projects on my first deployment," said Spc. Leonard Kitchens, a heavy equipment operator for 124th Engineer Company, and Augusta, Ga., native. "It was interesting to work with local nationals and to learn more about the way they live and how the U.S. is benefiting them."
During another major project, the 2nd Platoon, 124th Engineer Company, worked with soldiers and airmen from the Australian military, and troops from the 1223rd Engineer Company to deconstruct and transfer Multi-National Base Tarin Kowt over the course of nearly six weeks, ending in mid-December.
Under the direction of the Combined Team Uruzgan, or CTU, lead by Australian forces, second platoon was able to remove several buildings, more than 12,000 cubic feet of dirt and more than 700 tons of concrete T-wall barriers.
"Second platoon helped transform the landscape so they actually enabled the CTU to eventually transfer the forward operating base to the Afghan National Army," said Staff Sgt. Antonie Lott, an engineer for 2nd Plt., 124th Eng. Company, from Saluda, S.C. "Soldiers in second platoon were also able to improve their operator skills enabling them to work better as a team and finish projects quicker and on schedule."
One of the main focuses of the 3rd Platoon, 124th Engineer Company, has been multiple projects around Kandahar Airfield. These projects included using cranes, excavators, loaders, tractor trailers, dump trucks and other heavy machinery to move storage containers to different areas, tear down buildings, and take down tents.
The 3rd Pltoon troops also ensured unused materials were sorted so that they could be reused in theater or returned to the U.S. military inventory. Many of the projects were completed with the help of the other companies in the 489th Engineer Battalion, to include the 1223rd Engineer Company and the 760th Engineer Company.
"Through our efforts of deconstructing, we are investing in the Afghan economy and helping others, building trust and relationships with the Afghans," said Staff Sgt. Marcus Harris, an engineer for 3rd Platoon, 124th Engineer Company, who hails from Aiken, S.C. "We really are making a difference."
The 3rd Pltoon also participated in a recent large-scale project to restructure COP Jannat, to prepare the COP for transfer to the Afghan National Army.
"Due to third platoon's diligent work, the transfer of COP Jannat was successful and the COP was prepared to transfer ahead of schedule," said 2nd Lt. Reynolds Satterfield, who hails from Hodges, S.C. "We handed the base back to the Afghan National Army, so they can continue to maintain the defense of their country."
With more than two months in theater, the 124th Engineer Company will continue its on-going base closure and transfer efforts until its redeployment, sometime in 2014.