AL TAQADDUM, Iraq -- As the efforts of Task Force Al Taqaddum (TFTQ) advise and assist team continue, so does the sustainment, improvement and growth of Camp Manion at Al Taqaddum Air Base, Iraq. The task force is composed of U.S. Marines, sailors, soldiers, and airmen; all in support of Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve.
Coalition personnel have reestablished presence in the camp since June 2015 to advise and assist the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).
“The engineers out here have been involved in everything in the camp from its inception; from its containment to its expansion,” said U.S. Marine Capt. Samuel Modica, the task force engineer and force protection officer for TFTQ.
The mission to maintain, expand, and improve living conditions is not an easy one. But Marines with Engineer Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 1 (CLB-1), Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command 16.1, have worked around the clock since they arrived in early October to carry on the development efforts.
An essential part of the development strategy is the protection of living and work areas.
“We’ve recently moved out of the force provider tent, which is a soft structure, into the Alaskan style tent, which has the Alaskan barriers around them,” said Modica.
Alaskan barriers, also known as T-walls, are 16-foot concrete structures that are steel-reinforced to provide protection from shrapnel.
“A big part of that has been the actual movement of those barriers and putting them around the key structures of the camp, such as the living areas and the work areas,” said Modica. “For example, we just recently completed the base defense operation center.”
Although the transfer of concrete and steel barriers can be a time-consuming task, the Marines of CLB-1’s logistics combat element are up for the job.
A team of engineers led by U.S. Marine Sgt. Greggory Sgarlata, an engineer equipment operator, average a daily move of 35 T-walls from outside the camp site into the camp. Equipped with one MAC-50 Crane, a Palletized Loading System, and a Skytrak 10k ATLAS Forklift, the team collects, transfers and stands up the barriers, which weigh approximately 12,000 pounds each.
“It takes two people to operate the crane, one rigger and one operator, [in addition to] the extra support for the forklift, the motor [transport] operator and his aide driver.” said Sgarlata. “There’s a big logistical support coming in from all the engineer community and motor transport.”
Along with moving big slices of steel-reinforced concrete, the engineer community in Camp Manion can also support missions involving utilities around the site.
“[Some engineers and electricians] are working on all the power grids around the camp and rewiring everything and putting up generators everywhere,” added Sgarlata.
Depending on gear availability the engineers are also capable of working on horizontal construction, such as cleaning up roads and expanding the camp, according to Sgarlata.
Improvements on Al-Taqqadum are on schedule as maintaining presence and training Iraqi counterparts is an all hands effort. Task Force Al-Taqqadum will continue its advise and assist mission with the ISF.
By training, enabling, and increasing the capacity of Iraq’s Security Forces, SPMAGTF-CR-CC continues its commitment to support Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.