During a site visit to Afghanistan in October, Col. Robert Ruch, commander, U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, presented certificates of appreciation to five individuals working under contract with Huntsville Center in support of Task Force POWER (Protect Our Warfighters and Electrical Resources).
EXP Federal employees Shane Deek, Kevin Flynn, Rafael Varela, Abel Martinez and Sean McMurtrey were at Camp Integrity, Afghanistan, when the compound came under attack. The team had been on-site to inspect and repair a faulty grounding/bonding system that resulted in two incidents of electrical shock to U.S. personnel. These gentlemen, who arrived on-site in July, worked diligently for a month inspecting and repairing electrical system deficiencies and were within a few days of completing the inspections and repairs at the installation.
On Aug. 7, the camp was attacked. Nine Coalition Force Personnel were killed. The attack was concentrated at the Main Entry Control Point area of the camp; the large blast resulted in a number of facilities sustaining significant damage. Coalition forces repelled the insurgents and the “all clear” was issued the following morning.
According to Fred Cartes, Huntsville Center’s Task Force POWER project manager and contracting officer’s representative, after the all clear was given, Deek, Flynn, Varela, Martinez and McMurtrey immediately began inspecting the area and the facilities’ electrical systems for damage. This involved first “making safe” any electrical hazards that resulted from the blast. Numerous facilities sustained significant damage.
“The actions of these individuals enabled other crews to safely remove the destroyed materials and begin reconstruction,” Cartes said. “The team members then moved on to concentrate on restoring power to the most critical areas and installing temporary electrical power solutions as directed. This included re-energizing the Jammer, Main Entry Control Point systems and a new X-ray machine. Work continued for several more days using available materials and supplies to make repairs wherever possible. They also assisted in the general battle damage clean up around camp.”
“These individuals performed above and beyond the scope of their contract,” Ruch said. “When given the opportunity to be replaced, they chose to stay and continue providing assistance until the mission was complete or materials exhausted. We appreciate the efforts of these individuals whose actions went substantially beyond their contract requirements.”
The electricians of Task Force POWER are in theater to ensure that service members have safe and secure work and living spaces, so that they can complete the daily mission, Cartes said. As of Nov. 17, Task Force POWER had inspected 6,845 facilities totaling more than 4.7 million square feet; repaired more than 4.1 million square feet; and identified 98,907 flashes and priorities.
"Flashes are considered electrical Life/Health/Safety (LHS) conditions that we find and repair,” Cartes said. “Priorities are code violations that do not present an LHS condition. We perform our electrical inspection and repair duties Afghanistan wide, to include camps that are in remote locations where conditions are austere.”
Huntsville Center has been supporting Task Force POWER since 2009 performing low voltage electrical inspections (600 volts and below) and emergency life, health and safety electrical repairs of all U.S. Forces-occupied facilities within Afghanistan.