Written by U.S. Army 1st Lt. R.J. Peek
3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division
Ghazni Province, Afghanistan – Just 45 days after officially claiming occupancy at Forward Operating Base Andar, Task Force Iron Rakkasans transformed their location from a sand pit with four walls, to a well-established home with all of the basic accommodations.
The Soldiers of the forward support company were instrumental in the construction and the improvements in the quality of life.
Although the engineer unit supporting 3rd Brigade were the primary builders for the key structures for the Iron Rakkasans to operate at FOB Andar, the handy work of FSC Soldiers did a great deal to improve the living conditions.FSC Soldiers were responsible for improvements to the shower conditions, the dining facility and the power generation across FOB Andar.
The initial establishment of FOB Andar provided a basic shower tent that allowed Soldiers to dump bottled water over themselves to keep clean. Thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of Soldiers like U.S. Army Spc. Nicholas Yeatrakas, a missile repair technician from Goose Creek, SC, Soldiers at FOB Andar now have showers with running water.
“The FOB was very open and scarce when we got here,” said Yeatrakas. “It allowed us [the FSC Soldiers] to use our creativity and come up with some great ideas for how to improve the place.”
The new shower facility provides running water, which may not always be hot, but has sufficient water pressure. The Soldiers are currently building water barns to ensure the water will not freeze at night during the low temperatures that are common in Ghazni Province during the winter.
The initial shower tent provided four stalls, while the newest shower tents allow 14 Soldiers to shower at any given time. The new facilities also provide separate showers for men and women as opposed to having scheduled shifts when each gender would have access to the showers.
Yeatrakas is currently working on a fixed structure to provide even more shower capabilities for the Soldiers.
Feeding the several hundred Soldiers that reside on FOB Andar is understandably a challenging task. The dining facilities have also undergone a dramatic improvement since initial occupation.
Primarily, Meals-Ready-to-Eat sustained Soldiers at FOB Andar when they first moved in. With time, a mobile mess tent was established for Soldiers to receive prepared meals. Soldiers ate wherever they could find a spot to sit down around the FOB until tents were established to provide an enclosed area to eat.
Recently, FSC Soldiers helped to build a full dining facility that let the cooks provide better meals with more variety as well as a large dining area for the Soldiers to sit and enjoy their meal. Over the past week, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jorge Vera, a fires noncommissioned officer for 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry, from Los Angeles, praised the improvement in meals.
“We had real bacon cheeseburgers for lunch a few days ago, and last night they served real steak. It was still pink in the middle, it was perfect,” Vera said.
Although MREs would sustain Soldiers as long as necessary, there is no doubt the Soldiers prefer the quality of food currently available, thanks to the hard work of the FSC Soldiers.
U.S. Army Spc. Steven Carter, a generator repair technician from Ottumwa, IA, and U.S. Army Pfc. Tyler McClain, a missile repair technician from Corinth, Texas, complete the critical task of building and maintaining the power generators on FOB Andar.
The original establishment of the FOB provided small generators for each primary building. Carter and McClain restructured the power grid to provide stable power to all of the primary buildings as well as to the secondary buildings, such as living tents. Additionally, the reorganized power system allows the FOB to operate using generators.
Soldiers of the FSC are responsible for a multitude of other small projects on the FOB, each improving the lives of the other Soldiers. FSC is also required to conduct the maintenance of the battalion’s vehicles. With the operational tempo, vehicle maintenance is a full time job by itself. The Soldiers also conduct force protection by guarding towers and the entry gates, as well as building barriers and concrete walls to protect the FOB from rockets and gunfire.
“FSC is responsible for so many things,” said FSC’s first sergeant, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Cornelius Patterson from Miami. “They are responsible for providing the logistical support for Task Force Iron, their Afghan National Security Forces and our government partners. The efforts of FSC allow the combat forces to accomplish their mission and conduct successful operations.”