Task Force Hurricane paves way for new U.S. retrograde facility
August 14, 2012
BALKH PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Armed Forces Network combat correspondents, Marine Sgt. James D. Shea and U.S. Army Sgt. Jacob A. Connor, traveled from Bagram Air Field to Camp Marmal to report on the progress of the future U.S. withdrawal hub currently under construction in Regional Command-North.
Logistical lines of communication are being established to facilitate the removal of thousands of troops and billions of dollars worth of equipment from Afghanistan as the impending 2014 withdrawal deadline approaches. Due to the empirical unreliability of currently established portals in and out of the country through Pakistan, an 880-acre plot has been allocated to serve as an alternative egress staging area.
This massive, high profile construction project is currently being managed by Task Force Hurricane, a conglomeration of engineer units led by the 841st Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade, 412th Theater Engineer Command.
"In the past five months, we have moved and emplaced over 450,000 cubic yards of earth, which would fill the empire state building approximately four and a half times," explained Maj. Albert Lehmann, Task Force Hurricane construction effects officer who manages the project.
Shea enthusiastically sprinted back and forth across the soft upturned earth on the construction site where members of the 2nd Platoon, 497th Engineer Company, currently a detachment serving under the 505th Engineer Battalion as a part of the task force, were already operating scrapers, motor graders and bulldozers at 7 a.m., Aug. 12.
Grinning and almost completely covered in a fine layer of dirt, he confidently stated, "the way the dust billows up around the machinery, this is some of the best footage I have ever recorded!"
Five hours and many camera angles later, he felt he had enough to show the hard work and pride going into the project through film and coverage ceased in preparation for the upcoming name dedication ceremony scheduled to take place Aug. 14.
This new, U.S.-operated staging area, co-located in Mazar-e Sharif with the International Security Assistance Force's Camp Marmal, will officially be named after fallen Chief Warrant Officer John C. Pratt in a ceremony that will honor and memorialize his years of service and the ultimate sacrifice he made in the line of duty.
"We are honored to be working on a project that will be named after someone we served alongside," said Sgt. 1st Class Tony Collins, the onsite non-commissioned officer-in-charge.