NMCB-22 Seabees build camps out of dust
A horizon of sky and dust
greeted Seabees on their first
day of work at a camp near
the Syrian border. Just weeks later a
base camp for the Iraqi Security Forces,
emerged from the flatted and bleak
landscape of Western Iraq.
With little more than hand tools,
NMCB-22 Seabees are building small
cities in areas that are otherwise
wasteland, in support of Operation
Iraqi Freedom. That includes
everything from berthing spaces, places to cook food, eat, shower,
do laundry, store water and fuel, plus manage waste. Providing
electrical power is also part of the plan.
“The primary mission of our detachment is to assist in the
construction of Iraqi Security Forces installations,” said
Construction Electrician 3rd Class Richard Taylor. “The ultimate
goal of these facilities is to enable Iraqi Security Forces to function
on their own without U.S. assistance.”
“It’s an elemental part of reducing U.S.
forces in Iraq,” said Lt. Cmdr. Anthony
Spinler, NMCB-22 operations officer.
Two major challenges confront these
First, the earth is not sand, but very fine
silt that behaves like talcum powder.
“It gets into everything, gets very
gummy and very hard to maneuver
equipment,” said Spinler. “You have to
put down a lot of construction to ensure
you have firm footing and you
constantly have to manage that as you do your construction.” He
said gravel helped provide a workable surface.
Second, materials needed to do the job must be convoyed to the
site. “When we came on board, the materials were not on site. We
had to transport all of the materials.”
Support staff are pitching in to help build as well. “These
activities help the battalion be at more than 100% effective,"
according to Spinler.