NMCB-11’s Det Lavaredo: Around the clock construction provides critical MEDEVAC link in Farah Province

By Chief Equipment Operator Matthew P. Dooley                       

“The difficult we do at once; the impossible takes just a little bit longer.”  This is exactly the type of ‘can-do’ spirit exemplified by the Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11, Det Lavaredo.  

The Det is expanding a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in the Bakwa District of Farah Province that will provide critical Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) coverage linking two Regional Commands’ (RCs’) Areas of Responsibility (AORs) in a critical area of Afghanistan.  

The project is a massive undertaking, which has included demining, grading and leveling over 165,000 square meters of unimproved area and provided necessary force protection upgrades to ensure the security of the personnel who will occupy this new site.  

Seabees have been working around the clock while operating in a volatile environment that continually proves to be a challenge to construction operations and maintaining the necessary coverage for combat forces located in the Task Force Commander’s AOR. 

In addition to the on-site efforts, the Seabees are mining their own rock from a local riverbed for the construction of a 1600-meter perimeter road and select base course material for the helicopter landing zones on-site.  

“Thousands of cubic meters of material have been excavated, sifted and stockpiled.  We do not have the luxury of local deliveries out here,” explained Equipment Operator 1st Class Robert W. Dorch, Project Supervisor for this high visibility construction effort.  “The entire team here is doing an incredible job on every aspect of this project,” asserted Dorch, originally from Pensacola, Fla. 

In addition, the Seabees have placed 800 bags of Portland cement conducting soil stabilization operations for two helicopter re-supply pads, which will greatly increase the load-bearing capability of the landing areas and provide an excellent surface to land on preventing ‘brown out’ conditions for helicopters landing in this arduous terrain.  

During the initial three weeks of construction, the bulldozer teams were working 24-hour operations to get the 5-meter high, 1250-meter long berm in place.  The day shift was withstanding record-high temperatures in full combat load throughout the 15-hour workday while the night shift competed with blackout conditions and heavy winds using night vision equipment to work effectively while maintaining tactical and situational awareness. 

“It’s absolutely amazing to see what is accomplished during the work day, and while some of the Det is sleeping, to have another team of Seabees outside the wire working all night long,” exclaimed Lt. Seth D. Cochran, Det Officer in Charge.  “It’s a great feeling to wake up and see 200 additional feet of berm put in place.  The crew is extremely dedicated to the task at hand and everyone here is working extremely well together to accomplish the mission,” added Cochran, who is originally from LaPlata, Md. 

Accompanying their long hours spent on-site, the project has a very quick timeline for completion as MEDEVAC assets will soon arrive to provide the necessary ‘golden hour’ of helicopter coverage for troops operating in the region.  The Det will complete their mission in the coming weeks, and will have once again solidified the Seabees as the construction force of choice for their supported command. 

Homeported in Gulfport, Miss., NMCB-11 is deployed to Afghanistan to conduct general, mobility, survivability engineering operations, defensive operations, Afghan National Army partnering and detachment of units in combined/joint operations area – Afghanistan in order to enable the neutralization of the insurgency and support improved governance and stability operations.

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