Airman 1st Class Tyler Saulsgiver installs a door on a newly built dining facility expansion at a combat outpost, Afghanistan, May 23, 2011. Photo by Senior Airman Sheila deVera.
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (June 6, 2011) — Recently, a small team from the 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force Squadron, known as Prime BEEF, traveled to forward operating bases to improve the quality of life for servicemembers at combat outposts in Southeast Afghanistan.
These teams of light troop laborers, made up of structures, heating, air conditioning and ventilation, utilities, heavy equipment operator and electrical technicians, consist of two to seven airmen team going to different locations throughout the AOR to work countless hours on improvement projects.
As part of Prime BEEF, they are rapidly deployable and provide a full range of engineering support. Their mission is to provide civil engineer support required to establish, operate, and maintain defense force and contingency airbases.
“Our main mission here is to build B-huts [semi-permanent wooden structures],” said Staff Sgt. Kyle Sunne, 577th EPBS electrician. “While our secondary mission is base maintenance and helping improve what we can around the base.”
So far during their seven weeks stay at the FOB, they built seven B-huts to house Soldiers, and fixed wells and well pumps so servicemembers can have the comfort of taking decent showers. In addition, the team installed air conditioning units to cool servicemembers down during the summer months, which can get up to triple digits.
“The Army is appreciative of what we can do because we can fix anything from electrical issues, plumbing, or carpentry … we’ve got guys who can fix it,” said Richfield, Minn. native Sergeant Sunne.
Typically construction of this magnitude takes more than six airmen and months to complete each task, but these highly motivated Airmen are continuously improving Soldiers living conditions on FOBs or COPs.
“While Prime BEEF directly supports the Army in many locations across the AOR, we shift our manpower to meet the battle space owner priorities,” said 577th EPBS Superintendent and Burnsville, Minn. native, Chief Master Sgt. Dale Klossner. “Our Airmen regularly perform missions at different FOBs and COPs throughout Regional Command East.”
Tactical Operations Sgt. Major Reginald Coulter, 3rd Squadron, 4th Calvary Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division sought the help of Prime BEEF to house an increasing numbers of Soldiers. A team of five was able to build 20 B-huts and 15 showers for soldiers on the frontlines.
“Imagine having 20 guys living in B-huts cramped together now only six guys … B-huts with no air conditioning now have an air conditioning unit so I don’t have guys out in the hot sun to come home into a hot B-huts,” said the Salem, Ore., native. “Prime BEEF has allowed me to go take care of my soldiers. I have a gym, chapel, living quarters, and latrine/shower/shave facility because of them,”
Though they are temporarily assigned to the Army, there are 70 Prime BEEF light troop laborers around RC-East working non-stop improving servicemembers living conditions in remote locations so Soldiers can continue focusing on their mission.
“Prime BEEF has improved our living standards by 90 percent,” Sergeant Major Coulter said.
“If we could have them stay here with us all the time that would be our preferred method.”