New patch, same mission for Prime BEEF engineers at Kandahar
By Capt. Tristan Hinderliter, 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 03, 2013
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- The 777th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force Squadron here transferred its personnel to the 577th EPBS during a ceremony March 25.
There are approximately 70 people from the 777th being absorbed into the 577th. For the time being, most of the Airmen will remain at KAF, although some have been transferred to Bagram Airfield. In the future, the personnel might later be moved to other locations based on mission requirements, said Lt. Col. Michael Harner, 577th EPBS commander.
The 577th, which falls under the 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineer Group, has geographically separated units across six countries in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
"We're able to provide flexible and diverse engineering support across the entire theater for the Combined Forces Air Component Commander and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan," Harner said.
The squadron's core missions are life/health/safety assessments and repairs, light troop construction, master planning, expeditionary design and quick-strike fire fighting teams.
Life/health/safety inspections and repairs ensure safe living conditions for deployed troops - for example, if an electrical or plumbing problem would cause the mission to be degraded or unsafe conditions for troops in the battlespace, Airmen from the 577th EPBS would be dispatched to make the repairs.
Troop construction consists of small-scale projects such as placing concrete to put up a shelter, installing a mobile aircraft arresting system on the runway or ensuring lodging facilities are up to code, such as the work currently underway at Camp Bradley-Smith here.
The third aspect of their mission, master planning, is unique to Afghanistan, Harner said. For this job, small teams are sent out to forward operating bases to develop quick-reference plans of the Army FOBs for the battlespace owners, in order to establish logistical plans for retrograde and redeployment planning.
Lt. Col. J.J. Loschinskey, 777th EPBS commander, said the squadron has played a large role in engineering activities in Afghanistan since it was stood up in 2009.
"Our engineers have been critical in the planning necessary to surge combat forces in 2010, and up until today have been at the heart of planning the retrograde of U.S. forces from Afghanistan," he said.
Construction inspectors with the unit ensured facilities at hundreds of outposts across Afghanistan were up to par, created drawings and drafted dozens of plans for FOBs and conducted surveys of some of the most dangerous ground in Afghanistan, Loschinskey said.
"I'm proud to have been a part of this squadron that has left its mark on the Air Force civil engineer history books," he added. "The squadron's hallmark has been creative thinking and problem solving, which is what defines us as engineers."