COB BASRA, Iraq-The combined efforts of U.S. Soldiers and two local national contractors at Contingency Operating Base Adder led to the early completion of the scrap metal separation and segregation mission at COB Adder.

The mission, which took about 15 weeks to finish, required personnel on COB Adder to separate and segregate about 75 acres of scrap metal and other debris that had accumulated as far back as the Gulf War, said Maj. Tewanna Marks, United States Division- South engineer from Geneva, Ala.

"The original projection to clean up Adder was from February to July," Marks said. "We cleaned it up by May 25. So we took a little more than 60 days off the completion date."

Marks said the first time she visited the site, there were stacks of scrap metal piled more than 12 feet high. During the initial phase of the project, she would check on the site a couple times a week to ensure the operation was going well.

As the project progressed, the personnel and the operation became more efficient, Marks said.

"Toward the end there was a two-week period where I did not go to Adder," Marks said. "When I returned after those two weeks, I was amazed to see that the area was flat desert."

Sgt. 1st Class Jason Hellstrom, the engineer operations noncommissioned officer for the 1st Infantry Division and USD-S from Calumet City, Ill., said once the project go going, progress took place rapidly.

"When it started, the project moved a little slow," Hellstrom said. "About mid to the end of February is when the project really began to pick up."

The project was broken up into three phases, Hellstrom said. In the first phase the team identified, sorted and segregated the different materials at the site. Next, the team removed all steel metal. Finally, the remaining debris was hauled off site to designated locations.

The project consisted of approximately 60 personnel working on a daily basis, Hellstrom said. The team was made up of U.S. Soldiers and contract workers from Al Zaidi Company and Rawa'a Company who worked from Monday to Friday.

"Toward the end of the project, Soldiers would come in on Saturdays and Sundays to accomplish the mission," Hellstrom said. "None of the Soldiers complained one bit. They wanted to get it done."

At the end of the project, the team had removed approximately 333 tons of wood, 8,353 tons of trash and 11,088 tons of scrap metal according to a report given by the project leadership team.

Now, the 75 acres of scrap metal and debris are gone, Marks said. What remains is a scrap segregation and recycling center for Iraqis to use to employ locals and earn revenue, she said.

"Personnel on Adder can bring their scrap to the center and have it segregated, instead of just dumping it all together," Marks said. "It is a legitimate operation. It functions well."

With the guidance and support from the leadership team of USD-S, specifically Brig. Gen. Randal Dragon, the 1st Infantry Division deputy commanding general of support, the mission was completed faster than expected, Marks said.

When the base is returned back to the Iraqis, this project will help ease the transition, Mark said.

"It took teamwork from the division, the brigades, and all the personnel on COB Adder," Marks said. "Environmentally it was an excellent task that we accomplished as well because you always want to leave something better than what you assumed it as."