By Sgt. 1st Class Rauel Tirado
United States Army Central
SOUTHWEST ASIA -- For hundreds of Soldiers on Camp Redleg, living and working in tents has been the normal way of life in the middle of the hot dry desert, but not for long, as energy efficient buildings are being constructed by the hands of U.S. Army engineers for energy cost savings and improving quality of life.
The Soldiers of the 176th Engineer Brigade of the Texas Army National Guard, also known as Task Force Chaos, have been mobilized to construct engineering projects throughout the United States Army Central area of responsibility, which includes the unique construction project on Camp Redleg.
"This particular project is a great project for many reasons," said Col. Charles M. Schoening, commander of Task Force Chaos. "We're saving the U.S. government millions of dollars by using troop labor versus a contracted force. In addition, because of energy-efficient nature of these structures being built, the units will pay for themselves over the next few years on energy savings."
The individuals that will enjoy the benefits will be the Soldiers on Camp Redleg whose quality of life will improve drastically by moving from tents to office rooms and living quarters inside climate controlled energy efficient buildings.
What makes the construction project unique is that the Army engineers are producing newly designed modular metal buildings that are simpler to assemble and construct.
"Most of the Army's vertical unit engineers work with wood," said Master Sgt. Benjamin Mountain, a project manager with Task Force Chaos for the Camp Redleg project. "This being a steel frame construction of a modular unit is something new and that no one here has ever seen."
One completed, two-story steel-frame modular unit has the capacity to hold 160 individuals with 20 climate controlled rooms on each floor. The modular units can be configured to the needs of the Soldiers with open floors plans or expanded rooms.
The units will be wired for network access throughout the buildings, each room will have a thermostat for climate control and the building is insulated to maintain cool or warm air. This quality of life improvement will eliminate the environment of wooden floors with drainage issues, unregulated climate control and poorly insulated tents, which is a costly drain of energy.
"We are constructing four barracks, multiple office buildings, plus peripheral structures to house the post office, chapel and maintenance," said Mountain. "Getting the Soldiers out of tents and improving quality of living helps the force and the operational energy initiative ensures each unit has a reduction in power needed to run, it's going to be a win across the board."
The Camp Redleg project will take several months to complete and all the construction will be conducted by engineer Soldiers.
"When you look at ARCENT priorities of efforts, enhancing the force is one that is at the top of the list," said Schoening. "How do we enhance the force and have them prepare to fight? This project will differently enhance the quality of life for Soldiers who have been living in tents for a while. There have been many issues with this in the past and this project will solve them."