Afghan National Army Gen. Sayeed Malook, the commander of the 215th Maiwand Corps, and U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. David Berger, the commander of 1st Marine Division (Forward), cut the ribbon signifying transition of 73 buildings to Afghan control on Camp Shorabak, Helmand province, Afghanistan, July 1, 2012. (U.S. Army photo by Bill Putnam/Released)
CAMP SHORABAK, Afghanistan – Two snips of ribbon is all it took to show the Afghan National Army's 215th Maiwand Corps had control of 73 buildings. A short ceremony formally marked the transfer here July 1.
By the end of the calendar year approximately 400 buildings will be controlled and maintained by the 215th Corps, which is also headquartered on the camp.
"Today this ceremony is about the transition, the building transition and 215th Corps for the (Garrison Support Unit) base,” ANA Col. Jamal Khan, the 215th Corps director of the department of public works, through a translator.
U.S. Army Capt. David Hamilton, executive officer of the Infrastructure Training Advisory Group, Regional Support Command Southwest, said this first transition is an important one for the ANA.
"This is the first and getting them into the first is, I think, the most important because now they see they can do it and gain the confidence and in the end will create momentum that won't be able to be stopped,” explained Hamilton, who is stationed at Fort Benning, Ga. "If problems arise they'll be able to work through them. That's what we really want to see happen here.”
Hamilton and his team have been working with the Afghans since arriving last November. One of his advisers was Staff Sgt. Jeffery Mays, also from Fort Benning, Ga.
He's been working with the contractors and ANA leadership who will work on the buildings. After the ceremony, everything will be done by the Afghans, Mays said.
Mays and his team have specifically trained the Afghan contractors to take over the plumbing, electrician and other maintenance that the buildings will require.
U.S. Army Capt. David Hamilton, the executive officer of the Infrastructure Training Advisory Group, Regional Support Command Southwest, gives a speech during the transition ceremony on Camp Shorabak, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
"Everything from changing lights to doors that are broken to sinks that break, and latrines,” Mays noted. "Everything that can go wrong inside a building, these students have been trained how to fix.”
The mission of training contractors and Afghans, and then transitioning the buildings was challenging, Hamilton said. Overcoming language barriers, hiring contractors, obtaining tools and training them, had to be worked through before the transition could happen, he said.
"The location we're in is very austere,” Hamilton said. "But we've been able to do a lot of hard work and luckily our partners are willing to do a lot of hard work to make us successful.”
Also attending the ceremony was U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. David Berger, the commanding general of the 1st Marine Division (Forward) and ANA Gen. Sayeed Malook, the commander of the 215th Corps.
NTM-A is a coalition of 38 troop-contributing nations charged with assisting the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in generating a capable and sustainable Afghan National Security Force ready to take lead of their country's security by 2014.
Story by Bill Putnam
Regional Support Command-Southwest/NTM-A Public Affairs Specialist