Engineer transition team builds for future

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Written by U.S. Army Capt. Kenneth A. Stewart 17th Public Affairs Detachment Thursday, 06 January 2011 21:45

 

PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Lt. Col. Dale Waltman, CJ7 Engineer Transition Team officer in charge from Cornwall, Pa., and U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mathew Reilly, noncommissioned officer in charge of the ETT from Valley View, Pa., inspect the construction of new helipads at Forward Operating Base Thunder. (Photo by U.S. Army Capt. Kenneth A. Stewart, 17th Public Affairs Detachment)PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan –They rarely make the headlines. They do not capture insurgent leaders, and few people outside their organization know what they do, but the members of the CJ7 Engineer Transition Team are making a difference here in Gardez.



Transition team engineers are coordinating more than 70 million dollars worth of construction projects at Forward Operating Base Thunder. Their projects include a basic training facility, new helipads and an observation post.

FOB Thunder is nestled in a quiet corner of Paktya. It is nearly surrounded by picturesque mountains, but the apparent tranquility is an illusion that conceals an enormous amount of activity.

Buildings and other construction projects are going up all around the FOB as the Afghan National Army’s 203rd Thunder Corps expands and increases it capabilities.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Dale Waltman, CJ7 officer in charge from Cornwall, Pa., takes pride in the work his team is doing, but he does not see success in buildings alone. He measures success in terms of the relationships he has built.

“The relationships we have been able to establish with our ANA partners and contractors are our greatest accomplishment,” said Waltman.

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mathew Reilly, CJ7 noncommissioned officer in charge from Valley View, Pa., is quick to point out that although he is an advisor, he realizes local solutions are necessary for local problems and that American construction standards do not always work in the stark Afghan environment.

“(The Afghans) do not want to be Americans,” said Reilly. “The Afghans are going to find their own ways of doing things.”

It is this sort of respect for their Afghan partners that has led to the engineer transition team’s successes with the ANA.
One of their projects, an observation post, was deliberately built with traditional Afghan materials and construction methods.

“This observation post will still be here in 200 years,” said Reilly.

Both Waltman and Reilly are humble about the work they are doing, but it is clear their efforts are paying major dividends where it matters the most.PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mathew Reilly, noncommissioned officer in charge of the CJ7 Engineer Transition Team from Valley View, Pa., visits an observation post under construction near Forward Operating Base Thunder. (Photo by U.S. Army Capt. Kenneth A. Stewart, 17th Public Affairs Detachment)PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Construction workers pause to offer their afternoon prayers during a break while constructing a new basic training complex at Forward Operating Base Thunder. (Photo by U.S. Army Capt. Kenneth A. Stewart, 17th Public Affairs Detachment)

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 January 2011 21:58