CAMP MARMAL, Afghanistan – It’s a cold, snowy day in Qaysar District at a remote base in northern Afghanistan’s Faryab province. A tall steel skeleton begins to take form, guided by the expertise of a small team of civil engineers. They are Air National Guardsmen with the 577th Expeditionary Prime BEEF (Base Emergency Engineer Force) Squadron, Detachment North. Simply put, they take a base and build it from ground up.
“Our mission is ‘Engineering Combat Power’. We support all Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) in Regional Command North,” said Senior Master Sgt. Douglas Margelony, the Operations Superintendent with the 577th EPBS. “We’re looking to improve the quality of life at the actual FOBs. It could be installing tents, simple Latrine-Shower-Shave (LSS) units, anything to make the Soldiers’ lives better.”
Prime BEEF engineers are a diverse group, representing the total force effort of USAF civil engineers: active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. They come from the east coast to the west coast, each bringing civil engineering skills from their civilian jobs which are critical to accomplishing the mission.
“When we get tapped on the shoulder to come over here, we become one group. It’s like a plug and play. You can put any type of Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSC) skills together and put them as a group, and they will be able to function in their role,” Margelony said.
“For our first project, we went over to Meymaneh, a Norwegian forward operating base, where I worked with the Structures shop building a LAMS-V (Large Area Maintenance Shelter for Vehicles) from the ground up,” said Staff Sgt. Arthur Mitchell, an Air Force Utility System technician with Prime BEEF. “When we flew out of Meymaneh, and I looked out the window and saw this gigantic structure, you know it felt good that we brought all of our talents together and built this large structure.”
Mission critical needs determine which projects Prime BEEF engineers are tasked. In Ghazni province, the engineers took a bare base from nothing and built a functional base in just 60 days.
Another team project was in Gormach Province, in the northwest part of Afghanistan. Margelony describes it as the greatest accomplishment of Prime BEEF engineers during his deployment, “We were able to get in there in five weeks and basically rebuild half of the base there. It was quite an interesting trip to get in and out because it is quite remote. We executed a multi-million dollar project with a 10-man group.”
Prime BEEF engineers have developed a reputation among other military branches due to the quality of their craftsmanship. “Air Force engineers do more with less, execute quickly and perform quality work,” said Margleony. “Anywhere you go, whether it be RC North, RC Southeast, they ask where are the Prime BEEF guys because they are so used to how we operate and what we are capable of doing.”
Margelony and Mitchell have both finished their deployments and a new Prime BEEF crew has come in to replace them; however they leave behind structures and operating bases as a testament to their accomplished engineering.
Category: News - General
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