By Lt. Col. Patrick O'MahoneyMay 23, 2008
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - A promise made and kept, whether personal or professional, in business or in combat, can be what distinguishes the ordinary from the extraordinary.
On March 1, 2007, Col. Dennis Thompson, Commander, 401st Army Field Support Brigade made a promise.
He said that in one year his command would not be borrowing a place to post the rigade colors, that they would be flown in front of their own home.
To make the promise a reality, many obstacles had to be overcome.
A particular difficulty was securing adequate real estate in a location where competition for space is always fierce, and several organizations vie for any plot of usable land.
Then, once the property was secured a few improvements needed to be made - the most important being removing minefields and unexploded ordnance left over from many years of conflict.
In late December 2007, the land was finally cleared for building, leaving only eight weeks to bid, let a contract, break ground and complete construction during the worst construction weather conditions possible.
And, all this was being done in the mountains of Afghanistan during war. With only days on the ground, Thompson threw down the gauntlet and challenged the brigade engineer, Maj. Chet Chiles, and his team. Chiles and his people never hesitated, immediately sinking their teeth into the task.
Many additional obstacles faced this group of determined builders: working with inexperienced workers, no common language, inadequate or inappropriate tools and materials, inclement weather, and the limitations of building in a combat zone.
It seemed every entity on Bagram Airfield was skeptical of the 401st being able to accomplish the project and move in on schedule. The Combined Joint Task Force 82 staff, installation contracting, and others all looked on with interest.
The 401st is known as the Champion Brigade for a reason, however, and on Feb. 29, the 401st AFSB handed over the keys to the borrowed, empty building it called home for the past year, and was fully functional in the new brigade headquarters.
The brigade commander's promise had been kept.
Much work was done behind the scenes to make the "jump" to the new headquarters a success and maintain uninterrupted support to CJTF 82.
The brigade S4 (Fwd), Capt. Shari Carter, was tagged with the job of developing the brigade plan for the jump from its borrowed building to the new headquarters.
The jump began in the late hours of Feb. 27 when contract communications technicians Greg Welch and Torrey Mayberry of the S6 dropped the brigade's communications hub, or "mini," and transported it to the new location, plugged into the network already set up by Dave Ware and Jason Rhoads, also of S6, and had the system operational in under three hours.
On Feb. 28, Carter directed the Brigade's move, and the new headquarters was operational by close of business that day.
"The Champion team executed a flawless jump to our new headquarters. Thanks to planning and attitude by Brigade staff and support elements we made it happen," said Carter.