The Rebuilding Continues

Written by Lt. Col. Dunton, Maj. Hinckley

115th Engineer Group

  

   
SFC  Rohbuck with a young friend at the Girls school in Al Bathah.  May 6, 2004

Photo taken with SFC Rohbuck’s camera by an Iraqi school boy.

SFC  Rohbuck with a young friend at the Girls school in Al Bathah
May 6, 2004

The 115th Engineer Group has been working with local contractors to rebuild boys and girls schools in the Dhi Qar province of southern Iraq.  The Group Headquarters has facilitated construction management on projects in An Nasiriyah, Al Batha and Al Khartoom.   This has allowed U.S. Army engineers a greater reach into the surrounding communities by acting as the General Contractor on numerous construction projects.  The local CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) identified which areas were in the most need.  The design section led by Sergeant Major Randy Bunker and Lieutenant Colonel Don Summit assessed the project and sent recon teams to develop a scope of work. 

            Once the scope of work was determined, a bid was let to the local communities.  This is a difficult process because mass media is not available and construction companies are limited.  However, many talented and eager craftsmen apply to work on these projects.  Once a contractor is hired for a project, the Design section functions as construction inspectors and meets all financial obligations until the school is complete. 

115th soldier surveys the vast Iraqi landscape from helicopter.

Utah National Guard photo

 

115th soldier surveys the vast Iraqi landscape from helicopter.

            To ensure the safety of our work teams they are accompanied by a security force of soldiers drawn from the Headquarters Company.  It has been a real challenge for CPT Jerry Baker, the Company Commander, to man the security details and still leave enough personnel for the staff sections to do their jobs.  He has developed a rotating roster and everyone gets a turn.  This includes staff officers and senior non-commissioned officers.  Most soldiers like the duty and look forward to their turn “outside the wire.”  When your turn comes up it falls on the rest of your section to cover and make sure that the mission of the Group continues.

            This process has allowed the soldiers of the Group to do more with less military assets and provide jobs for willing Iraqi workers.   The interaction with the children at the schools is a side benefit.  The majority of the children want to practice their English and talk to the American Soldiers. They also like to look at the Hummers we drive.  Like children around the world, a safe place to learn will be essential in the development of Iraq.