Engineers protect Soldiers by emplacing force protection screen
July 20, 2009
BAGHDAD - The engineers of the 277th Engineer Company, based in San Antonio and serving with the 46th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), 225th Engineer Brigade, completed the installation of 2,400 feet of sniper screen at Joint Security Station Zafarniyah July 18. The screen will provide the Coalition forces operating out of JSS Zafarniyah a significant force protection improvement, by limiting visibility into the base.
The engineers found ways to adapt to the scorching heat and dust storms they encountered while continuing to display their trademark determination to complete missions on time. To accomplish the Zafarniyah sniper screen mission in the given timeframe, the Soldiers broke into small teams allowing them to perform continuous five hour shifts.
"Without a doubt this sniper screen mission has been the most challenging to date," said Cpl. Jason Bradshaw, Project Team Leader, 277th Eng. Co., a native of Rolla, Mo. "The biggest challenge is the fact that up until now the force protection here at "Zaf" has relied heavily on concertina wire which is everywhere around and along the top of the wall where we are trying to emplace the sniper screen."
For this sixth such mission, the engineers used a crane to lift and emplace a pre-made 60 foot section of fence and sniper screen. This was necessary to work around the countless obstacles along the wall which included combinations of jersey barriers, t-walls, containerized housing units, connexes, electrical wiring and heavy military vehicle parking.
Installing the extra wide washers on the back side of the walls to prevent the bolts from pulling through the cinder block wall during wind storms was another unique challenge the engineers overcame on this project.
"Ideally we prefer to work with concrete T-walls and use wedge anchors as a proven means to anchor the brackets to the wall. However in this case we were given a cinderblock wall of inconsistent structure to mount the brackets," stated Sgt. Robert Shilling, Project Team Leader, 277th Eng. Co., a native of Spokane, Wash. "As a result, the new weak point became the cinder blocks and the extra wide washers were made to prevent the added force the sniper screen would generate from high winds from cracking and destroying the wall."
After completion of the force protection project on July 18, the 277th Eng. Co., once again had an opportunity to realize the importance of their work on improving the safety conditions at JSS Zafarniyah, a vital base in the southeastern outskirts of Baghdad. The words of Spc. Dillon Arredondo, a native of San Antonio, Texas, uniquely summarized the mission at Zafarniyah.
"A mission like this is a win-win scenario," stated Arredondo. "The 82nd Airborne has a safer base to live and operate from and I was able to lose 10 lbs and increase my physical strength."