By Ms. Adriane Elliot (USARCENT)September 17, 2018
Ensuring U.S Soldiers are able to support their Afghan and Coalition partners in counterterrorism operations is a critical component of Area Support Group-Afghanistan (ASG-A).
"That's the whole reason we're here--to provide the base life support/services to the men and women who need it. That allows them to dedicate their manpower and resources to the mission of preventing terrorist safe havens in Afghanistan," said ASG-A Commander Col. Jacob Peterson.
Peterson commands what is essentially a civilian garrison organization that provides everything from billeting, laundry and food service to public works and quality of life support to more than 35,000 personnel throughout the Combined Joint Operations Area-Afghanistan (CJOA-A). That personnel includes U.S. military, DOD Civilians, Contractors and Coalition Forces who are contributing to Resolute Support, the NATO-led, non-combat mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).
The ANDSF assumed nationwide responsibility for Afghanistan's security following the conclusion of the previous NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission. Its purpose is to help the Afghan security forces and institutions develop the capacity to defend Afghanistan and protect its citizens in a sustainable manner.
Peterson, who is also the deputy commander of Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, said, "We and our 41-nation Allies understand the significance of this moment in time. This Coalition--its people and their leaders--are committed to the success of the government in Afghanistan."
And every individual and organization has its part. For the Bagram-based ASG-A, doing the work that frees up military manpower takes place 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Hundreds of miles south of Bagram in one of the nation's most dangerous and heavily contested regions lies Helmand Province, home to the ASG-managed Forward Operating Base (FOB) Dwyer.
At FOB Dwyer, the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment conducts the security and ground defense area mission at the remote base. They also conduct daily escort detail for contractors who provide land waste management at Dwyer.
Currently, local national contractors take solid waste and dispose of it by burying it in nearby landfills--the oldest and most common method of organized waste disposal around the world. Thousands of pounds of Dwyer's solid waste is transported to the landfill daily.
But early next year Dwyer will transition from land disposal to a more eco-friendly and mission focused solution.
"In January, we're going to bring online four solid waste incinerators, which will burn up to 300 pounds of trash in an hour, about three to five tons per day," said ASG's Robert Lee, the site manager for FOB Dwyer.
Lee called the move to high-temperature incineration a significant event for the environment, public health and for the RS mission.
Incinerators can reduce waste volume by up to 95 percent and decrease the solid mass of the original waste by 80 percent. He said this will not eliminate the need for a landfill completely, but it will reduce the amount of land needed. For smaller countries, this is important as landfills take up large amounts of space and produce undesirable byproducts.
"These advanced combustion systems which will run on continuous operation and reduce solid waste volume by a ratio of 20:1," said Lee. "It's going to reduce the environmental footprint on the land and minimize the spread of disease and stray animal nuisance, thus improving life, health and safety for the more than 1,500 people on the FOB.
"But most importantly," he said, "when the ASG begins management of the incinerators, we will be giving back a whole platoon of warfighters who can actually do what they're supposed to do. They will no longer have to serve as security details for the waste management contractors, but can provide their expertise to Resolute Support. This is really a win-win for everyone."
For more information about the Resolute Support mission, visit www.rs.nato.int.
For more information on ASG-A, visit www.facebook.com/AreaSupportGroupAfghanistan/posts or visit www.army.mil, type in Areas Support Group Afghanistan and click on News.