Until recently, trucks stuck in traffic jams outside Contingency Operating Base Adder, a U.S. base near Nasiriyah, were experiencing small arms fire and theft as they waited for their turns to enter the base until Soldiers of the 224th Sustainment Brigade, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) built a safe overflow lot to protect the incoming traffic.

A short time ago, the vehicles were backed up into Main Supply Route Tampa, which runs from Kuwait all the way through Iraq. This made the area a security risk and a road hazard for local citizens sharing the road.

"Prior to building the overflow lot, (the base) saw significant congestion when convoys would arrive and try to get through the vehicle inspection point," said Lt. Col. Samuel Wallis, operations officer with the 224th Sust. Bde., 103rd ESC. "Convoys were backed up on to MSR Tampa and sometimes several kilometers down the road. It could take four hours or more for some vehicles to make it off of Tampa and to the inspection lanes. During that time they were vulnerable to possible enemy attack and posed a safety hazard to other vehicles on the MSR."

Due to the drawdown of U.S. forces, two nearby convoy support bases closed, and the traffic was re-routed to COB Adder, causing a significant increase in truck volume, according to Wallis.

To minimize the threat and gain control of the area, the 224th Sust. Bde. created the Safe Haven, an overflow parking lot with prioritized staging lanes prior to entering the control point. This was done at the request of Brig. Gen. Randal Dragon, the deputy commanding general for support with the 1st Infantry Division and a Harrisonburg, Va., native. Safe Haven gives trucks a secure waiting area off of MSR Tampa, keeping vehicles and the base out of harm's way.

Many hours of man power were needed for this project to become reality. Prior to the start of the project, nothing but a cluttered lot was next to the security control point. The brigade researched contracting the project to a civilian company, but the cost was going to be over $450,000. With the lion's share of the work done by 328th Engineer Support Company, 36th Engineer Brigade and the use of reclaimed barriers from the closed bases, the project was completed for a total of $18,600.

After a thorough survey was completed by the Facility Engineering Detachment, the project was turned over to the engineers, who built the roads, complete with drainage and a retention pond.

The engineers worked 18-hour days, moving approximately 6,380 cubic meters of earth and laying out 700 cubic meters of Getch (a clay-based soil that cements rocks together) and 2,000 cubic meters of gravel to complete the project.

Walls were emplaced to provide protection from small arms fire for the lot, and Safe Haven is now a reality, allowing vehicles off of MSR Tampa as quickly and as safely as possible.

"Safe Haven allows us to bring all the vehicles in and put them in a safe haven instead of having them backed-up on top of each other all the way out to MSR Tampa," said Staff Sgt. Dwayne Sowells, force protection noncommissioned officer in-charge with the 15th Transportation Company, 224th Sust. Bde., 103rd ESC and a New York native. "Safe Haven, in itself, allows for us to manage inbound traffic a lot better. It gives us a lot of command and control as far as how many vehicles are out there."