By Staff Sgt. Garrett Ralston, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment Public AffairsNovember 30, 2010
BABIL PROVINCE, Iraq - As the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment advises and assists Iraqi Security Forces, they are getting valuable assistance themselves in the form of engineering support from the United States Air Force.
An Air Force Facility Engineer Team (FET) operates at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu, home of the 3rd ACR's headquarters in southern Iraq, and works closely with the regiment on projects that will have a positive effect on the future of the camp, the Iraqi Security Forces and residents in the local area.
"We provide installation engineering and light vertical and horizontal troop labor," said Lt. Col. Laura Johnson, squadron commander of the 467th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineering Emergency Force and native of Duluth, Minn. "Our Facility Engineer Teams use their technical expertise to execute master planning and surveying."
In August, the FET succeeded in extending the Unmanned Aircraft System runway on Kalsu to allow for larger aircraft to take off and land.
"We extended the runway so that multiple UAS models could utilize it," said Johnson. "The project was completed in only 36 days to meet the reduction of forces deadline. The Kalsu FET provided all of the surveying and construction."
The FET is currently working with the 3rd ACR on a plan that will move members of the Iraqi Army onto Kalsu. The project, when complete, will put the IA and U.S. forces closer to each other, allowing for greater cohesion and ease of joint missions.
"We are surveying the area that the ISF will eventually be housed," said Tech. Sgt. Andrea Romero, Lead Engineer Assistant with the Kalsu FET, originally from Las Vegas. "We have to account for the total space, to include force protection measures as well as living and working space."
The Kalsu FET's efforts extend beyond the camp's gates. The engineers are working with the 3rd ACR on a mission plan that will breathe new life into a courthouse in the city of Hillah.
"We are surveying and making plans for this courthouse," said Johnson. "It will get needed refurbishing and then be turned back over to the Iraqis who will use it."
The courthouse in Hillah will serve as a hall of justice where Iraqis will be able to exercise rule of law.
"I take my job very personally," said Romero. "I know that I've contributed to Iraqi sustainment and their ability to stand on their own. I can leave here knowing I made a difference for the Iraqi people."