By Natalie Lakosil, Fort Huachuca ScoutJanuary 26, 2012
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. (Army News Service, Jan. 26, 2012) -- The first phase of a new road being constructed by 40 airborne engineers from Alaska will pave the way for quicker Border Patrol response times along the U.S. and Mexico border.
The Soldiers of 1st Platoon, 84th Engineer Support Company, 6th Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Airborne), 2nd Engineer Brigade, based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Alaska, arrived at Fort Huachuca, Jan. 6, to execute a Joint Task Force North engineer mission in support of the U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson Sector.
The Soldiers have begun construction on close to a mile stretch of road for the U.S. Border Patrol, said Steven Passement, of the U.S. Border Patrol.
"The road will facilitate a quicker reaction time for agents responding to illegal crossings and drug trafficking," Passement said.
The mission is scheduled to be completed Feb. 24 and is the first part of a three-part effort.
"We have done the cutting, clearing and grubbing," said 2nd Lt. Michelle Zak, mission commander, 84th Engineer Support Company, 6th Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Airborne). "Incoming units will do drainage and the shaping of the road."
Zak said the Army effort on behalf of the Border Patrol is beneficial to both agencies.
"This is definitely a win-win situation to support the Border Patrol and get training at the same time," she added. "This is important because the Soldiers need to know how to operate in tight spaces and steep hills, and we get that here."
"This is an opportunity to get real world training that the Soldiers can use overseas, and Border Patrol gets a new all-weather road," Passement said.
Passement said Border Patrol agents drive on whatever roads are accessible, and when there aren't roads to drive on, agents "get out and hike it."
"In the past it would have taken an hour or two hours to drive what just took us 10 minutes, because of the new road," Passement said. "During the monsoon season, roads get washed out and we have to go around, but they are creating all-weather roads that should hold up for a while."
There have been some challenges with the terrain and with getting heavy pieces of equipment into the work areas, but Zak said the team has "made a lot of headway" in their work, and added that "it's been a great training opportunity for us because we don't get this type of terrain or training in Alaska."
The mission site is located three miles west of the Nogales Mariposa Port of Entry, along the U.S. and Mexico border.