International Military Engineers Work Together in Afghanistan
By 1st Lt. Kenya Virginia Saenz, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHARANA, Afghanistan, Aug. 27, 2007 Afghans and multinational forces are working hand in hand on a variety of construction projects here.
Polish Pvt. Piotr Oparski works on the final touches of a culvert in Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan, as a scoop loader hauls the rest of the dirt. Photo by 1st Lt. Kenya Virginia Saenz, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 864th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy); 1st Construction Company, 100th Republic of Korea Engineering Group; and Polish 1st Engineer Brigade are working together to construct metal building systems, known as K-Spans; roads; ditches; culverts and sewage lagoons.
Task Force Pacemaker Headquarters Support Company soldiers led by Army Capt. Eric Parthemore support the battalion and manage multinational force missions.
Polish engineers provide additional capacity and leadership to multiple construction projects. Polish soldiers led by Polish army 1st Lt. Radoslaw Telezynski are working to improve roads by ensuring that proper drainage and sewage structures are constructed before the rainy season begins. The Polish army has been deployed in places such as Lebanon, Syria, and Africa to support many humanitarian missions since the war on terror began.
“I didn’t know what to expect or what missions we would have, but working with American soldiers has been a great experience. They have been very helpful,” Telezynski said. “I have been able to learn different training techniques from the American soldiers and compare them to our techniques. I changed our technique to what works best to accomplish the mission successfully.”
Polish Pfc. Rafaz Sobon agreed. “This is my first time deployed,” he said, “and it has been a new and interesting experience. We learned about different cultures in class, but it is better to learn from first-hand experience.”
First Construction Company from the Republic of Korea focuses on K-Span construction. Korean engineers are especially meticulous and bring a “vertical construction” capability to the command that it did not have, Parthemore said. The company is commanded by Korean Capt. Bo Geol Choi.
Once completed, the K-Spans will enhance maintenance operations and provide more space for supply support activity here. Even though K-Spans are not common in Korea, the soldiers were previously trained by civil engineers in their country, Choi said.
“We are very proud to be part of this mission. Our main goal is to bring the proper engineering assets for future coalition forces,” he said. “There have been a few challenges over the language gap as well as different working systems, but overall, the construction progress and the relationship with American forces are going well.”
Korean soldiers Sgt. Chi-Keun Lee and Cpl. Min-Gi Kim agreed. They said it is fun learning about different cultures, even though sometimes they have to use hand signals to communicate.
“The addition of Polish and Korean engineers along with Afghan contractors gives our task force a tremendous capability that we do not normally have,” Parthemore said. “Simply working on a single job site with engineers of four nationalities working together toward a common goal is very satisfactory. Also, our common understanding and respect for safe operations keeps us accident free despite the communication difficulties.”
(Army 1st Lt. Kenya Virginia Saenz is assigned to the Task Force Pacemaker Public Affairs Office.)