Army, Air Force engineers drop hammers to teach

Story and Photo by Spc. Naveed Ali Shah
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

GALIBIYAH, Iraq — Soldiers and Airmen from the Fort Bragg-based 37th Engineers Battalion helped the Iraqi Army take a big step toward self-sustainment by teaching them new engineering techniques during a project at Galibiyah Sept. 1 through 21.

Galibiyah is home to the Iraqi Army’s 5th Field Engineer Regiment. The Vertical Construction Platoon, 37th Eng. Bn., helped the Iraqi’s build their tactical operations center there.

“Working in partnership with the 5th FER, we taught them to build a Southwest Asian hut, which is basically just a wood-frame build,” said 1st Lt. Courtenay W. Cullen, the Vertical Construction Platoon leader, with the 37th Eng. Bn.

The electricians, plumbers and carpenters of the platoon could have finished the construction in roughly a week, but they constantly pause to teach and train their Iraqi counterparts, said Cullen, a Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., native.

“Not only do they learn how to build with our tools, but they are learning how to lead a construction site,” she said. “They learn our leadership style, the way we manage a project, and that we rely on the noncommissioned officer corps in order to (supervise the project).”

The Army and Air Force engineers teamed up, bringing different sets of knowledge and expertise to the project.

“Everyone brings their own expertise and it’s great,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph J. Jaganathan, a structural journeyman assigned to the Air Force’s 732nd Expeditionary Civil Engineers Squadron, ordinarily attached to the 37th.

“We’re just trying to teach them a way to do it, not the way to do it,” said Jaganathan, a Washington native.

Joint partnerships help build the capacity for the Iraqi Army to execute operations in support  of the Iraqi Security Forces and the government of Iraq, said 1st Lt. Chad M. Livingston, military transition team leader, 37th Eng. Bn.

“Building relationships of trust, of genuine partnership, will go a long way to help each other in the future,” said Livingston, a Lee’s Summit, Mo., native.

As the U.S. moves ever closer to the complete withdrawal of forces from Iraq, projects such as this play a big role in getting the Iraqi Security Forces on their own two feet, a fact highlighted by Brig. Gen. Robert A. Harris, commanding general, 194th Engineer Brigade.

Harris said, “Even though the faces come and go, the processes and standards stay the same. So by teaching them now, they will benefit far into the future.”

 

news photo
Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Jaganathan, a structural journeyman assigned to the Air Force's 732nd Expeditionary Civil Engineers Squadron, but attached to the 37th Engineers Battalion, reviews the floor plans to the Tactical Operations Center with Iraqi Army Lt. Kusave through his interpreter, Adhay, during a Joint/Coalition operation. Soldiers and Airmen from the Fort Bragg-based 37th Eng. Bn. helped the Iraqi Army take a step toward self-sustainment by teaching them new engineering techniques Sept. 1 through 21 during a project at Galibiyah, Iraq.