By Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Garas
BU3 Joseph Flowers,NMCB 15, secures chains to a pallet of sandbags as he works to construct a bunker project in support of the Afghanistan National Army. Photo by MC2 Daniel Garas
Seabees assigned to the Convoy Security Element (CSE), of Navy Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 15 constructed an Ellis tower for the Afghan National Army (ANA), May 22, 2013, living up to their motto, "We Build, We Fight."
The lot contains vehicles that are incubated for a 24-hour period before entering the Shoraback complex.
"The construction of this tower is directly enabling the ANA to be self-sufficient once we leave " said Construction Chief James Warwick, CSE leader. "We are providing them their own soak lot and this will act as their Entry Control Point."
Builder 1st Class Chad Riegel noted that rapid build projects like this go hand-in-hand with the history of the Seabees and their philosophy.
CSE's primary duty is convoy security escort and static security at build sites.
Warwick explains that two years ago, the CSE team consisted largely of senior enlisted Builders and Equipment Operators. He realized the need for dispersing seasoned leadership throughout the battalion while balancing the diversity of the rates for his own team.
The result was a mobile, flexible build team that could deploy rapidly and provide its own security on site.
"Basically they were just remanufactured as a small build team," says Warwick.
"The other missions that we've completed, we have been doing primarily security," said Riegel. "So this is the best of both worlds. We get a chance to get out and do some actual construction work."
Riegel also mentioned that the Seabees' unique ability to provide a rapid construction element while performing their own security sets them apart. "We bring a lot of different aspects to the game that civilian contractors don't. They need security. We can do our own security and do the work ourselves."
The prefabrication for the tower was built largely by junior sailors over an 18-hour period and provided an excellent opportunity to refresh skill sets. After the prefabrication was completed the tower was placed on the back of a flat-bet truck, transported to the construction site and lowered into place by a crane.
Warwick explained that the team utilized an alternating system for their work schedule. While half the team worked on the job for four hours, the other half would be in the vehicles providing security while staying cool.
"It's win-win. We're hitting that work-rest cycle, providing our own force security and minimizing the amount of people needed to do the construction in bulk," said Warwick. "I have no overhead. Everyone here is a direct labor at one point or another."
From planning to completion, the project took just three working days to complete.
Builder 2nd Class Edward Stokka said that projects like this are motivating.
"There's a lot of satisfaction being here throughout all the phases," said Stokka. "From the planning to the construction phase, I really like seeing it all come together."
NMCB 15 is currently deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and is an expeditionary engineering element of U.S. Naval forces supporting units worldwide through national force readiness, humanitarian assistance, and building and maintaining infrastructure.