Monday, February 20, 2012

Making History: Bagram Becomes Garrison Base


11th Public Affairs Detachment
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Burger
U.S. Army Col. Gary G. Kamauoha (right), a native of Apia, Samoa, and Command Sgt. Maj. Gerald W. Knight, who hails from Brunswick, Ga., became the first garrison command team in a combat zone as Bagram Air Field stood up U.S. Army Garrison Bagram early February. The duo is responsible for the improvement and day-to-day running of base operations.

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – In history, sometimes the little, unseen events can have a lasting impact.

On Bagram Air Field, history was made quietly and with little fanfare as Installation Management Command installed the first theater garrison command team and transformed Bagram’s base operations into a full U.S. Army garrison early February.

The garrison team was brought in to focus solely on the improvement of the daily operations of Bagram Air Field, said U.S. Army Col. Gary G. Kamauoha, garrison commander, U.S. Army Garrison Bagram.

“Until now, no process has existed to engage the installation management professionals in running the bases that provide a home away from home to troops deployed in the operational theatre,” Kamauoha said. “That precedent is now changing as the Army looks to IMCOM to actively engage in [base operations] at two major expeditionary bases currently operating: Bagram Air Field and Camp Leatherneck.”

The Apia, Samoa, native added that U.S. Army Garrison Bagram will be responsible for the day-to-day operation and management of installation and base support services in support of the senior commander and tenant organizations. Such services include providing service member programs, facility services, installation support and environmental/energy sustainability.

“The biggest focus is on infrastructure,” said U.S. Army Garrison Bagram Command Sgt. Maj. Gerald W. Knight. “[One of] our efforts have been making sure people have effect transportation here. We moved the bus stops off of Disney [Road] and added stops at the [passenger] terminal. We also plan to reduce the footprint of non-tactical vehicles.”

The duo are dealing with the unique challenges of being the only garrison command in a combat zone and one of those challenges, Kamauoha said, was the improvement of deployed personnel’s living conditions.

“One of the top priorities discussed was the drawdown of the wooden B-huts. We’re coming up with ways to get rid of them,” Kamauoha said.

“Future B-huts that would be built would be made of steel with dense foam [insulation] for sound deadening and environmental protection,” Knight added.

The hardened living structures would provide improved safety and security for personnel on Bagram Air Field, Knight said the process, while long, has already started.

“The east side move [of personnel] has already begun. We’re going to continue to push that effort. It’s going to take over a year time frame, maybe longer,” Knight said.

Although when service members think of a garrison environment, images of civilian clothes and bowling alleys springs to mind, the sergeant major was adamant on dispelling such ideas.

“Right now, it’s business as usual. We’re gonna maintain the same postures we have because of the environment we’re in,” Knight said.

“Bagram Air Field has been identified as one of the enduring bases in Afghanistan. Time will tell, but, if it continues as an enduring installation, it makes sense to move it in that direction,” Kamauoha added.

While the team understands they have a huge challenge ahead in organizing and improving Bagram, they both stated the importance of why they are here and the significance of what they are doing.

“It’s an honor to be able to come here and stand up the first garrison command team in a combat situation. Normally, these enduring base concepts are done after everyone signs peace accords. To be able to do this while we’re still in conflict is a great honor,” Knight said.

“It was overwhelming at first, but it’s a good challenge. It’s an honor and a privilege. “We’re here to serve and do what’s right for Bagram and [everyone] who lives here,” Kamauoha added.


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