Meadville Tribune

December 27, 2013

Meadville native part of group overseeing operation in Afghanistan

By Staff Sgt. Paul Clever
Meadville Tribune

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — The 130th Engineer Brigade, currently serving as the Theater Engineer Brigade, Joint Task Force Sapper, is overseeing construction operations and upgrades in and around one of the Bagram Air Force Base’s entry control points (ECP) in Afghanistan.

This mission’s importance comes from the amount of traffic the ECP sees, as this particular one is recorded as the busiest out of all of base ECPs in Afghanistan.

The JTF Sapper Survey and Design Cell team that is assigned to this project consists of four individuals, the noncommissioned officer in charge, a team leader, and two technical engineer specialists. When asked about this project the JTF Sapper Survey and Design officer in charge, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Willie Gadsden Jr., said, “As a unified system of expert surveying and technical engineering the J7 Survey and Design soldiers have always demonstrated sound approaches to getting the job done.”

This particular ECP currently handles all commercial traffic entering and exiting Bagram Air Force Base. Consisting of more than 450 vehicles per day, mostly semitrailers, which are essential for everyday maintenance and support to the soldiers and civilians on base, the purpose of this mission is threefold. They are mitigating drainage issues in the area, widening the existing lanes and adding an additional lane for coalition forces to enter and exit the base.

When the JTF Sapper Survey and Design Cell conducted their initial topographic survey of the area, they began by setting survey control points using a Trimble R8 GPS system, then set up on those points using a Trimble 5601 Total Station. They used this technique because with a traditional GPS survey, it would not have been possible in the location they were working in.

To mitigate the drainage issues the area currently has, the JTF Sapper Survey and Design Cell designed a retention pond that will be able to hold in excess of 160,000 gallons of water, more than enough volume for the rate of rain and snowfall the Bagram area receives.

They then needed a design to divert all runoff in the area into the retention area. This was accomplished by regarding the area surrounding the ECP to guide any water into the drainage pipes leading to the retention pond.

This work also benefits the local Afghan community in two direct ways.

First, by re-contouring the land and helping to guide the water toward the retention pond, the surrounding fields drain easier, thus making them more suitable for planting crops. Second, there are local access roads on either side of the ECP which will be graded and improved while the heavy earthmoving equipment is there working.

Widening of the existing entrance and exit lanes at the ECP will take place during the lifetime of the project. Currently, due the large size of most vehicles operating through the ECP, and the existing width of the lanes, damage is consistently done to both vehicles and barriers. Widening the lanes will both help to prevent any damage in the future and help the flow of traffic through the busiest gate in Afghanistan.

Adding a third lane, as a dedicated coalition forces lane will also drastically improve the flow of local commercial and civilian traffic through the ECP. Every time a convoy must enter or exit the base the traffic must stop and yield to them. With the ECP improvements, commercial and civilian traffic will be able to continue unaffected by these convoys.

All the improvements to the ECP are not only essential to the mission coalition forces perform but they also will have a direct impact on the local community, helping to improve roads and farming in the area.

Staff Sgt. Paul Clever, son of Larry and Mary (Mailliard) Clever of Chicago and grandson of Wallace and Charlotte Clever of Meadville, recently deployed to Afghanistan. Clever graduated from Meadville Area Senior High School in 1997 and attended Embry-Riddle University, Daytona Beach, Fla. He lived and worked in Florida for several years as a surveyor before joining the U.S. Army in 2008. After basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., he has been stationed in the U.S. at Fort Richardson, Ark., Fort Polk, La., and, most recently, Schofield Barracks at Wahiawa, Hawaii. He deployed to Afghanistan in September and is working with the 130th Engineering Brigade, Surveying Department.