In just a few short months combat engineer Soldiers from Fort Bragg’s 20th Engineer Brigade head to Iraq for a variety of construction missions to improve the quality of life on U.S. Army Forward Operating Bases. The Soldiers are young, most fresh out of Advanced Individual Training (AIT) schools. But they proved that they’re fully capable of building just about anything when they completed a simple, yet well-made park attendant station at W. Kerr Scott Lake.
Operations Manager Terry Ramsey said this is the second such construction opportunity that’s a win-win situation. It uses the capabilities of professionally trained Soldiers, and saves taxpayers money.
“Last year they completed a restroom at Fort Hamby Park in about three weeks,” said Ramsey. “Normally it would have taken several months to build and probably $300,000. We built it using their labor for about $80,000. So, there is tremendous costs savings plus the time savings. The Soldiers are always very professional and know how to do engineering work, know how to read specifications, and it’s a great training exercise for them.”
The Soldiers used the opportunity as a test for things to come when they deploy to Iraq. Their plates will be full, and they’ll need to work quickly without delays.
“We can build anything we want,” said Sergeant First Class Brian Varney. “As Army electricians, carpenters or plumbers we can build things in a short amount of time. It’s more like ‘get in, get out’, but do a good job.”
Varney said building the park attendant station was a great opportunity because his Soldiers don’t really get to see a lot of finished products.
“Usually we go in and they’re focused on engineer-related tasks like going to the field and doing field fortifications. But by doing an actual finished product like this is a big difference. They actually learned a lot more from it. By the time we came out here I had 71 Soldiers in my platoon, but only 10 of them got to attend. Those 10 are going to go back and share the knowledge they learned with the rest of the platoon. Probably 70 percent of my platoon has less than seven months in the Army so it’s a great opportunity for these guys to go back and train their peers.”
For Captain Aaron Williams, Company Commander of 37th Engineer Battalion headquarters, it was an opportunity to give something back to the community.
“We just came from the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California after a 28-day rotation and they built a theater-type project that was an unfinished project. For them to come up here and get an opportunity to do work away from Fort Bragg and work independently in the community is phenomenal. We’ve received unconditional support, and I hope it continues after we return from our upcoming deployment.”