Engineers Complete Road in Eastern Afghanistan
By 1st Lt. Claudia Crossland, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Jan. 5, 2006 Engineers from Task Force Pacemaker recently completed the construction of a 66-kilometer major logistical road linking the towns of Shinkay and Qalat in eastern Afghanistan.
Soldiers build a road through the market town of Shinkay in eastern Afghanistan. Charlie Company, 864th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), Task Force Pacemaker, is deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, from Fort Richardson, Alaska. Photo by 1st Lt. Claudia Crossland, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Soldiers from Charlie Company, 864th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), Task Force Pacemaker, from Fort Richardson, Alaska, began construction of the road Oct. 20 at Forward Operating Base Sweeny near Shinkay, 20 kilometers from the border with Pakistan. They worked their way west through Daub Pass, a mountain trail renowned for its steep terrain, hairpin turns, inclement weather and lethal enemy threat.
"The earth-moving engineers used dozers, scrapers and 20-ton trucks to plow through more than 14 kilometers of road in less than eight weeks to complete our portion of the road before our redeployment home in January," said Army 1st Lt. Eleanor Gillis, 864th ECB earth moving platoon leader.
The soldiers of Task Force Pacemaker worked with the Central Asia Development Group to construct a water crossing over the Lora Rod River and for the section of the road through the steep mountain pass.
For the final section, from the Daub Pass to Qalat, sapper engineers from the Combat Support Company of the 173rd Airborne Infantry Battalion worked alongside more than 100 local nationals who had been hired to operate much of the heavy engineering equipment.
The project represents more than eight months of work, said Army Lt. Col. Paul Paolozzi, Task Force Pacemaker commander. "The Army Engineers, combined with an international development agency, made this road a reality. Afghanistan's success is tied to the cooperation demonstrated in the road-building effort and the ability to connect people."
Last winter, more than 200 Afghans living east of Daub Pass died when trucks carrying food and life sustaining supplies could not get through the snow-covered mountains.
The road already has made a significant impact on the local population, allowing for easier travel in the region and promoting economic progress. The new road will allow once-isolated villagers to travel to nearby market towns, while also encouraging international commerce with nearby Pakistan.
(Army 1st Lt. Claudia Crossland is assigned to the 864th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), Task Force Pacemaker.)