Platoons support construction in Uruzgan
18 January 2013
The Bushmaster vehicle convoy stops at a construction site on the side of a road 30 minutes from Multi National Base-Tarin Kot in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan.
Soldiers from 7th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (7RAR) Task Group (TG) Other Government Agency Platoon One (OGA 1), commanded by Lieutenant Patrick Rooney, leave their vehicles and fan out around the site. They search the area to ensure it’s safe and then form a protective perimeter.
When Lieutenant Rooney deems the area safe, Captain Daniel Kennedy-Stiff and Sergeant Daniel George, both from the Managed Works Team Four (MWT 4), leave the vehicles to meet with an Afghan building contractor who is building a concrete culvert on this stretch of road.
After an update on the project, the MWT 4 and OGA 1 teams travel to the next stop on their mission route, a section of a 14 km stretch of road which will soon undergo improvement.
After stopping to inspect the road surface, the Bushmaster convoy returns to Multi National Base-Tarin Kot.
Captain Kennedy-Stiff who is the project engineer with the MWT 4, said his unit’s role was to supervise and manage construction projects in Uruzgan province, which are identified and funded by AusAID and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
“Our unit is a part of the military and civilian staffed Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT),” he said.
“After AusAID and DFAT inform us of what projects we’re to manage, we conduct a scoping study to determine the feasibility of the project.”
“If it’s deemed feasible, the project is then submitted to Headquarters Joint Task Force 633 for approval, then when we’re given the go ahead, we put together a design brief consisting of our own designs, specifications and plans for construction.”
Captain Kennedy-Stiff and his team then brief local contractors on the project and begin a tender process.
“As part of the process we assess the contractor’s previous work, construction methodology, technical capacity and overall ability to achieve a successful outcome,” Captain Kennedy-Stiff said.
“The complexity of each project determines how long it takes for the construction to be completed.
During the construction phase of a project, MWT 4 and PRT personnel conduct regular site visits to ensure contractors maintain construction quality and adhere to project timelines and work standards.
MWT 4 and PRT personnel could not perform these visits alone, as they do not have the suitable protected mobility or combat power to safely travel to work sites.
This job is for the personnel from two 7RAR TG OGA platoons.
Lieutenant Patrick Rooney said the daily focus of the OGA platoons was to support the MWT 4 and PRT.
“We provide them mobility and protection to and from the project sites,” Lieutenant Rooney said.
“The MWT 4 and PRT submit their requests to move outside Multi National Base-Tarin Kot and we receive them as an operational task.
“The area we will be moving to and the known threats determine how we structure our force for the mission.”
The detailed planning process enables Lieutenant Rooney and his platoon to provide the PRT and MWT a secure setting for their visits to work sites and meetings with contractors.
Captain Kennedy-Stiff said the support from the OGA platoon soldiers was crucial for him and his team to complete their missions.
“The security they provide almost creates a safe work environment similar to how we work back in Australia,” Captain Kennedy-Stiff says.
“Without them we could not get our job done.”
With both teams working together, Lieutenant Rooney says they are both helping the Afghan people in more than one way.
“I can really see the job we are doing is making a difference,” Lieutenant Rooney said.
“By supervising the construction and providing security at these sites, we are at the forefront of helping the Afghan Government achieve its goals.”