Tech. Sgt. Chris Collins cuts a 2-by-6 piece of wood to use as a frame for a bench Nov. 24 at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. REDHORSE Airmen are currently working approximately .8 million in projects here. Sergeant Collins, a 557th Expeditionary REDHORSE utilities technician, is deployed from Minot Air Force Base, N.D. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Travis Edwards).
AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq — Airmen are improving the lives and operating conditions of Marines by constructing more than $9.8 million in aircraft shelters, taxiways and temporary shelters at Al Asad Air Base.
Deployed in an "in-lieu-of" tasking in support of the 20th Army Engineer Brigade, 557th Expeditionary REDHORSE Squadron Airmen are completing numerous projects – from the design concept to completion – in a joint service environment.
"We’re here working on a Marine base, taking on an Army job while using Navy parts," said Master Sgt. Richard Kapp, the 557th ERHS cantonments superintendent and acting first sergeant, deployed from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. "It’s an odd process."
REDHORSE is an elite Air Force engineer squadron, whose main function is to take a strip of uninhabited land and turn it into a fully functioning base with running water, shelters and power.
The REDHORSE team currently has 14 assigned projects. Six construction tasks are underway, and six more are scheduled to start soon totaling $9.8 million.
One project recently completed was a $65,000 convoy briefing facility, which included three temporary shelters.
"Having this facility complete now allows Soldiers and Marines going out on convoys to have a place to brief before heading out on dangerous missions without having their mind distracted by the extreme cold or heat," said Senior Master Sgt. Rob Townsend, the 557th ERHS superintendent deployed from Malmstrom AFB, Mont.
REDHORSE Airmen also are building other temporary-shelters throughout the base.
"One of our sites will house more than $1.5 million in Meals Ready to Eat that normally would have been thrown away due to the high heat in the summer," said Capt. Andy LaFrazia, the 557th ERHS spoke commander for Al Asad AB, deployed from McChord AFB, Wash.
The engineers have faced several challenges as a result of the nontraditional nature of the deployment.
"Getting materials we need for a project is a problem on everyone’s mind. It’s a brand new system," Captain LaFrazia said. "We are getting used to it and are pushing forward, keeping our mind on the mission."
The Airmen are driven to improve the quality of life of their fellow military members.
"Everyone here wants to make a difference," Sergeant Townsend said. "We all have the same focus of getting the job done and done safely."
"We are building a better way of life for all the servicemembers who live and work in Al Asad," said Senior Airman James Cox, a 557th ERHS electrician deployed from Shaw AFB, S.C.