BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Bagram Airfield is the hub for U.S. servicemembers who in-process for the Operation Enduring Freedom troop surge.

The permanent population at this massive installation northwest of Kabul continues to rise, and the transient population hovers around 3,000. Space is a commodity, and there's constant juggling and shifting of areas where buildings need to be constructed to house the growing populations as well as dining facilities and other buildings and facilities that support the populations.

Down on the flightline there's also major construction going on. Afghanistan Engineer District-North members at the Bagram Area Office are helping to support the surge by managing the construction of a hangar for the U.S. Air Force that will accommodate more and larger aircraft complete with a maintenance facility. With an operations tempo that seems off the scale at times, the hangar will keep congestion limited by providing the extra space.

"This hangar project is tied to what we call the 6-in-1 Project," said project manager, Earl Smith III. "This will be the upgrade for everything as far as hangars, airfield runways, taxi ways, helicopter pads -- just basically trying to get Bagram up to par with the demand it's facing with an increasing number of individuals coming into Afghanistan."

Smith said that with so much ground traffic planners have to ensure that every square inch of the tarmac is used wisely. Smith said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project managers have to coordinate with base operations daily to keep things in balance.

"We have to be able to affect change and stay ahead of the ball to make sure that our military is able to keep up with the increasing demands. That's what we're here for," he said. "In addition to the 6-in-1 project we also have a bulk fuels projects which is going to be increasing the availability to get fuel and everything that Bagram needs in order to function smoothly and efficiently."

Across the tarmac, the Bagram Area Office is also managing the construction of a massive helicopter hangar for the Army. It, too, will have its own maintenance facility and decrease the amount of helicopters on the open tarmac.

In addition to supporting the surge with the hangars, the Corps of Engineers is making life easier for transient troops before they ship out to duty locations.

Currently, most troops live in tents on the far end of the installation. Whole units are cramped small buildings with little room to walk around. But a new dorm-style barracks provides not only comfort but added protection because it's a hardened structure.

"As you can imagine tent living with the number of personnel coming in and out is very tough not only logistically for trying to get them all the support facilities that they need, but then also for the Soldiers themselves being cramped in such a small space which is not necessarily hardened or permanent."

Smith said that the pace of life and work is intense at Bagram Army Air Field with an influx of permanent and transient troops and civilian government workers and contractors. But with projects that aim to make good use of limited real estate the Corps is doing its part to help keep things running smoothly and efficiently in support of the surge.

Page last updated Wed April 14th, 2010 at 04:44