Thursday, March 11, 2010
It’s a bit like being Nick Knowles from DIY SOS. But instead of sorting out a delipidated bathroom in 24 hours we have to make an all singing, all dancing Patrol Base here in Showal, Nad-e-Ali in less than 3 weeks. This is not an easy task when you have to put in a check point first to protect the area. So you have to turn infantryman to make sure there is no IED threat, put your builders on sentry duty and then put in the basics of any checkpoint – sangars, firing points, chicanes and search bays.
Now the patrol base we are building required a Medium Girder Bridge to bridge the gap over a small irrigation channel. It was about a 5-6 metre gap and without the bridge no building supplies or stores could be brought in by the 60 vehicle Combat Logistics Patrol. It also had to be sturdy enough to take some significant weight from containerised lorries. We started building it at 0530 and it took us a day to complete.
We are on a tight timescale of no longer than 3 weeks to make a complete Patrol Base that will house Afghan soldiers and coalition troops. We are working in partnership with ANA engineers but it is a challenge as site foreman to relay building instructions in Pashtun! I find hand gestures work much better – oh and use of an interpreter. We are working 18-20 hour shifts until the base is built, with only 6 hours off to rest for each person.
We did have some dramas when our plant broke which fills aggregate into the hesco security bins. However, we reverted to type 1 spade and filled the bins in by hand. The only thing then that stopped the plan was a sandstorm that raged on for 7 hours. However, we are on schedule and I’m very proud of what our lads have achieved.
Picture credit: Squadron Leader Dee Taylor