Improving Our Foxhole: New Living Areas for Soldiers Under Construction
on Friday, 31 July 2009

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Multi-National Division-South

Story by J.P. Lawrence

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq – Soldiers of Contingency Operating Base Basra can expect to have more living space in late October or early November. Engineers of the 557th RED HORSE Squadron have been working for the last month to construct seven housing units to accommodate more than 500 Soldiers.

The new Life Sustainment Areas, Sandstorm and Viking, are located next to Red Bull LSA. The two LSAs will be separated by bathroom and shower facilities and together will consist of seven housing units, each with 36 two-man rooms. The rooms will measure 10 feet by 16 feet and will have air conditioning. "It'll be like an old Motel 6," said Air Force Master Sgt. Barry Snyder Jr., RED HORSE project manager.

Sandstorm and Viking LSA construction will help the Red Bull billeting office find homes for the Soldiers currently housed three-to-a room in a containerized housing unit designed for only two.

"Soldiers need their space," said Staff Sgt. Shelli Maier, a 34th Red Bull Infantry Division network monitor from Osseo, Wis. "I understand it's a combat zone; it could be worse. Yes, I've deployed where it's been tents and a cot. But to expect one Soldier to sleep on a cot when you have two others on a bed with a wall locker and - oh by the way - you don't get a key to lock your stuff up ... that's not acceptable."

"The other guy in my CHU doesn't have a lock and pretty much keeps all his stuff in a corner," said Pfc. Nhia Xiong, an intelligence specialist who said he's looking forward to "a little more space to stretch out a bit, to add stuff, to make the CHU feel a little bit more like home."

"We have always had three-person rooms in Red Bull LSA," said Lt. Col. Steve Hanson, 34th Inf. Div. Special Troops Battalion commander, in response to a question in the Rumor Mill, a feature of this publication. "Upon our arrival to COB Basra personnel were placed on cots in rooms to provide them housing. We are moving bunk beds into rooms and relocating people within the LSA in an effort to consolidate units and sections."

"There has actually been a reduction in the number of rooms with three occupants over the last six weeks from 102 to 86. Of those 86 rooms, 26 are still on cots," Hanson added. "Our end-state is to get Soldiers off of cots and into their final room assignment."

"Personally, I don't mind my three-man CHU," said Spc. Tyler Leske, an intelligence specialist from Hutchison, Minn. "I have two awesome roommates; we get along and respect each other's space. I hope I keep one of my two roommates, at least. I could honestly stay in my three-man CHU all deployment long and not mind it."

For now Sandstorm and Viking LSAs exist only as two concrete slabs. RED HORSE airmen have been limited in preparing the site over the past month due to funding concerns, but construction is expected to pick up in the coming weeks.

"We're doing everything we can to get this project done and meet our deadline," said Snyder. "We should be going vertical with our first building probably next week. It should take us about 10 days and then you'll be seeing a lot of progress."

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Last update: Friday, 31 July 2009

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