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Cleaning Up Contingency Operating Base Adder

The combined efforts of U.S. Soldiers and two local national contractors at Contingency Operating Base (COB) Adder led to the early completion of the COB’s scrap metal separation and segregation mission. The mission required personnel at COB Adder to separate and sort about 75 acres of scrap metal and other debris. The metal was the accumulation of items dating as far back as the Persian Gulf War of 1990 to 1991.

Breaking Down the Mission

The project was broken down into three phases. In the first phase, the team identified and sorted the different materials at the site. In the second phase, the team removed all steel, and in the third phase, the remaining debris was hauled offsite to designated locations.

The project involved approximately 60 personnel working on a daily basis. The team was made up of U.S. Soldiers and contract workers from Al Zaidi Company and Rawa’a Company, who worked from Monday to Friday. “Toward the end of the project, Soldiers would come in on Saturdays and Sundays to accomplish the mission,” said Sergeant First Class Jason Hellstrom, the engineer operations noncommissioned officer for the 1st Infantry Division and U.S. Division-South. “None of the Soldiers complained one bit. They wanted to get it done.”

Cleaning Up the Scrap Metal

According to Major Tewanna Marks, an engineer with U.S. Division-South in Iraq, “The original projection to clean up Adder was from February to July [2010].” Soldiers completed the mission on 25 May 2010, reducing the mission’s completion time by 60 days.

Marks said the first time she visited the site, stacks of scrap metal were piled more than 12 feet high. During the initial phase of the project, she checked on the site a couple of times a week to ensure the operation was going well.

As the project progressed, the personnel and the operation became more efficient. “Toward the end, there was a 2-week period where I did not go to [COB] Adder,” Marks said. “When I returned after those 2 weeks, I was amazed to see that the area was flat desert.”

Hellstrom said that once the project was underway, progress took place rapidly. “When it started, the project moved a little slow,” Hellstrom said. “About mid[way] to the end of February is when the project really began to pick up.”

What Soldiers Left for Iraqis

It took 15 weeks for U.S. Soldiers deployed to the base and the two local contractors to sort the materials in the COB Adder scrap yard into a functioning scrap separation and segregation area.

The COB also has a scrap segregation and recycling center that Iraqis can use to employ locals and earn revenue.

“Personnel on [COB] Adder can bring their scrap to the center and have it segregated instead of just dumping it all together,” Marks said. “It is a legitimate operation. It functions well.” When the base is returned to the Iraqis, this project will continue to run and will help ease the transition.

With the guidance and support from U.S. Division-South leaders (specifically Brigadier General Randal Dragon, the deputy commanding general for support, 1st Infantry Division), the mission was completed faster than expected. At the end of the project, the project team leader reported that the team had removed approximately 333 tons of wood, 8,353 tons of trash, and 11,088 tons of scrap metal.

Sergeant James Kennedy Benjamin, USAR, is assigned to the 305th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, 9th Mission Support Command, at Fort Shafter, Hawaii. The unit is currently deployed to Basra, Iraq, and supports the U.S. Division-South, 1st Infantry Division Public Affairs Office.

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