Skip to comments.Soldiers, Iraqis put carpentry skills to work
Posted on 03/20/2007 5:56:26 PM PDT by SandRat
CAMP STRIKER -- When people think of a deployment to Iraq, they may imagine sand-filled tents and crude buildings on American posts. Sometimes, that mental image is right, but sometimes it isnt.
The soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), assisted by local Iraqi builders and civilian contractors, have revamped their brigades tactical operations center at Camp Striker, Iraq over the seven months they have been in the country.
When the brigade arrived in September of 2006, the operation center was housed in two separate buildings, simple structures of two-by-fours and plywood, unpainted and with a rough concrete floor. By December, the floor was tiled, the walls boasted a carpet wainscoting and subtle wallpaper, and framed photographs and captured weapons decorated the hallways.
Over the last few weeks, the soldiers of the brigade have put in overtime, pouring concrete, building walls and roofs, and painting to join the buildings. While civilians have put in time doing the lions share of outdoor painting, much of the work is done by Soldiers.
Sgt. Tony Fusco, the assistant brigade engineer and a native of Avon, N.Y., has been working on the center for several weeks.
The way it looked before was plain. Now it looks a lot more like a brigade headquarters should, he said.
Fusco, who said he has been doing carpentry and construction since he was 9 years old, helped build walls and the front porch for the TOC as well as doing trim work and other carpentry.
It makes me feel good, he added. I like to get out of the office, get some fresh air and sun - and I enjoy building. Im glad I get to use my skills to make the building better.
The soldiers are motivated, and theyre working together well, said Sgt. Jason Carvel, a native of DeKalb Junction, N.Y., a dismount with the brigades personal security detachment, as he assisted his soldiers moving sandbags and rocks. Theyre motivated because they want the job done quickly, but done well and to standard. And its fun for both of our patrols to work together. It makes me feel good to see all of them so motivated.
Sgt. Joshua May, a driver with the personal security detachment, stood on a ladder painting the tops of the walls.
I come in here quite often, he said. Watching the look of the TOC improve, and being part of that change, makes me feel good.
The entrance of the TOC was moved to another side of the building, putting a nicer face on the headquarters.
Its a one-hundred-percent improvement in terms of image, said translator Frank Oraha, who was born and raised in southern Iraq but immigrated to the United States in 1966. He has served in the TOC for almost three years, as three units have moved in and out. The previous units didnt project an image like this. It gives the image of a professional headquarters.
Oraha isnt the only Iraqi native who appreciates the renovations.
Col. Ali (Jassim Muhammad Al-Frejee, commander of the 4th Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division) commented on it to me, because he had been here before. He was flabbergasted, said it was a night-and-day improvement - and that was before the new construction. He only saw the neatness of it, the tiled floor and the paint, the photos on the walls and the mural.
Projecting tidiness and professionalism is important in Iraqi culture, Oraha noted, explaining that especially in a sheikhs home, the madthif, or parlor, is always kept clean and properly set for receiving guests and entertaining.
Its always kept presentable for guests, to present a good image, said Oraha.
The soldiers appreciate the buildings new look as well.
I like that theyre integrating all the things theyre doing in sector with what we do here, said 1st Lt. Amber Ryder, deputy brigade personnel officer, and a native of Kalamazoo, Mich., of the photographs that line the walls. Were showing the success of the guys who are out there doing the hard work.