On The Front is a special chronicle of AIATN members' periodic communication with colleagues and friends in AIA Tennessee.
Col. Holmes is currently stationed in Iraq, and has placed his experience on paper to share with our membership. He has indicated he enjoys getting communication from friends and colleagues, you can contact him: Jeffrey.h.holmes at us.army.mil or Jeffrey.holmes at iraq.centcom.mil
Ron Barstow, AIA is currently stationed in Afghanistan.
From the Front - Ron Barstow, AIA
July 25, 2011
Afghanistan - I have been in country (Afghanistan) for two months now and It doesn't seem like it has been a very long time. This is a forward base and very busy with troops coming and going and all kinds of equipment. The camp is a city of over 20,000 and there is plenty of work to be done. Housing is a big problem replacing tents with pre engineered buildings. One of the first things I noticed on my arrival was that there were not many shaded areas. No roof overhangs and no means of natural ventilation. Security concerns are part of the problem and blowing dust presents a lot of problems as well. The buildings are built with a system called frame CAD (an automated construction system). It will literally frame anything, so I can see a great opportunity for constructing an elevated roof system allowing for maximum ventilation above the insulated structure. Including large overhangs to shade the walls. This type of design will also provide shaded corridors and small shaded areas for the troops to meet and hang out. There are no gathering spaces like this on base. This entire base is a design build operation and being able to use my sketchUp skills has proven to be the deciding factor on getting ideas across to management and contractors. It is very fast paced and an exciting place to be. Ron Barstow Camp Leatherneck Afghanistan
On the Way Home - Col. Jeff Holmes, AIA
July 20, 2010
Iraq - Lynn Clements of HFR writes "Just thought I would give everyone an update on Jeff. I just talked to him and he is back in the USA. He will be at Camp Shelby, MS until September and back at HFR on October 4th 2010."
Troop Draw Down Update - Col. Jeff Holmes, AIA
July 1, 2010
Iraq - Reality of the "Responsible Drawdown of Forces in Iraq", as it is known, has kicked in and the Regiment already has soldiers on the ground in TN. Unfortunately for many families, we're not all coming home at the same time and redeployment will stretch out a little more than the typical time frame. Due to operational security issues, the families don't have much advanced notice when their soldier is going to arrive, but, we're coming home early so it's hard to find anyway here complaining of that minor inconvenience. Packing equipment is the order of the day but we'll really feel like we've made it when we get our last convoy back in the wire in a few days. Then the celebration really begins. Unfortunately no alcohol here so we'll have to settle for some volley ball, softball, and horse shoe matches to fill in some time and those can even be kind of dangerous when dealing with caffeined up, energy drinking, hyped up soldiers who know they're getting close to leaving this place for the last time. But that challenge will be a lot less stressful than the past few months so its all good. Best thing is we'll all get to experience one more fall season in Tennessee, including football and Thanksgiving, and that's an early Christmas present for all of us.
Update From Iraq - Col. Jeff Holmes, AIA
April 10, 2010
Iraq - Col. Holmes writes:
I'm sorry it has taken so long to update everyone but getting 3400+ soldiers and equipment into 5 different locations in Iraq is a logistical challenge. It literally takes nearly a month and travel by fixed wing and helicopter hampered by snow in MS and dust storms in Kuwait cause and already difficult task to be almost impossible. Not uncommon for soldiers to stage at 0200 in the morning and stack their duffle bags, load them onto trucks and cram on a bus with full gear and sit for hours, only to return to the tents in the desert and be rescheduled for another flight. This can happen for 3-4 days. And equipment being offloaded on from ships is a whole other challenge. Anyway, enough of the logistical challenge. All soldiers are at their final destination and we are arrived just in time to experience another National Election. The 3rd one the Regiment has participated in. Nothing like jumping right in. The election was a success with 60-70% turn out in some provinces. That's probably why you didn't see a lot of news coverage. Astonishing given the fact that these people risk their lives to vote and we struggle back in the States getting people to vote. I will never miss another election and I doubt any of my soldiers will either.
We've arrived right at the end of the rain season and have moved into the dust storm spring with temperatures beginning to reach 100 already. Soldiers are getting into a routine of providing security for all convoys moving along the roads and we travel mostly at night. We share the road now so we obey what little traffic laws are observed here which amounts to basically just not running people off the road. The Iraqis have done a great job in starting to secure their country and it is impressive to see them perform. Still not to our standards but from where they came from it is a great accomplishment. There is still plenty of violence but not to the degree of the last 3-4 years and definitely not to the extent we experienced last time. They will still not stand and fight and elect to shoot at us from a distance or detonate IEDs if we don't find them first.
We all live in the big Forward Operating Bases (FOBS) so there are plenty of phones, internet, DVDs, and coffee shops. And of course the Dining Facilities (DFAC) are loaded with plenty of food. The soldiers want for nothing as far as food and connectivity are concerned.
The mission is constantly changing and everyone is getting ready to see if the real troop draw down will actually happen. Subject to a final vote count and battles waged in the political area verses the streets, I see the draw down gaining momentum. More work ahead for us as every piece of equipment the flows out of Iraq we're the ones who provide security for it. A lot of work ahead and the few of us combat units left by AUG will be looking over our shoulder the whole time wondering if the bad guys think they want to take another opportunity before we all leave. Problem is we (all units) don't all leave at the same time so we'll be the ones holding the door open for everyone else.
It's a great opportunity to participate in this historic period of time when we're actually winning what was once thought of as an unwinnable war. Will gladly trade space on the from page of the news paper for a successful withdrawal operation and bringing all my soldiers home safely.
Tell everyone hello and sorry the email is so lengthy. Thanks for everything,
Father Patches Son in Ceremony - Col. Jeff Holmes, AIA
March 12, 2010
Joint Base Balad, Iraq - On April 8, a Tennessee father placed a combat patch on his son's right shoulder in Iraq, celebrating his son's service at Joint Base Balad, Iraq... | more
It may seem trite, but we must point out that the writers view's are their own, and do not represent the views of our membership, or the AIA.