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Team Provides Expertise to Afghan Workers

By Air Force Capt. Tony Wickman
Special to American Forces Press Service

KONAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Dec. 30, 2009 – Military and civilian members of the local provincial reconstruction team here are training Afghan workers how to build structures to exact engineering specifications.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Navy Chief Petty Officer David Zahm, center, an engineer with the Konar provincial reconstruction team, and Brandon Toliver, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, speak with Safiullah, the construction site foreman, about the proper rock and sand mixture for concrete footings at the Nowabad school in Konar province, Afghanistan, Dec. 26, 2009. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brian Boisvert

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

On a visit to the Nowabad School construction project Dec. 26, Navy Chief Petty Officer David Zahm and Brandon Toliver, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers representative, met with the Afghan construction manager to discuss the project’s progress and to offer critiques and support.

“It’s important to do the work right. You have to make sure you’re using good-quality materials and the right construction practices,” Zahm said to Safiullah, the site manager.

It’s important, Zahm said, to “do things the right way.”

The Nowabad School project is one of many ongoing efforts to improve the infrastructure here. The school represents a $219,000 investment that will house 20 of 26 classes currently taught to more than 2,000 area boys and girls.

The construction project also provides much-needed jobs. Since most of those jobs are held by workers with scant building skills the team’s engineers pass their knowledge to the site managers.

“You should have the skilled workers paired with the unskilled workers for two reasons,” Zahm said to Safiullah. “One, it gives them the training to become skilled workers, and two, it teaches them the right way to do things.”

As the engineers walked through the school construction site, they showed workers the proper mixture of sand and rocks to make cement.

“See this, these are too small and it won’t work,” said Zahm as he showed workers a handful of rocks from a pile used to mix concrete.

As the quality assurance and compliance check concluded, Zahm turned to Safiullah and offered words of encouragement.

“You’re doing a good job and I know it is tough,” Zahm told him. “But, you have to teach your workers how to do things the right way the first time.”

(Air Force Capt. Tony Wickman serves with Combined Joint Task Force 82.)

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