FORWARD OPERATING BASE ARIAN, Afghanistan — The mud, isolation and arid heat of Forward Operating Base Arian are now receding for the American paratroopers stationed here thanks to the troopers’ hard work as they work and live on the 20-acre post formerly occupied by Polish forces.
Deployed to insurgent-troubled rural Ghazni province the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team hope to make a difference in the security situation. In the meantime, they are pulling together to make the most of their humble post.
The FOB “mayor” is Capt. Steve Kim, a company commander with 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, who is on his third deployment.
According to Kim, paratroopers of three battalions have pooled labor and resources with the base life support contractor, engineers with the Louisiana National Guard, and the Army Materials Command to achieve substantial, quality-of-life improvements for the FOB’s denizens.
They include doubling the size of the dining facility, building and graveling a new, secure landing zone for the heavy helicopter traffic, expanding the fuel storage capacity and pumping facility, establishing a new supply yard and erecting new vehicle maintenance bays, erecting dozens of additional living quarters and associated showers and latrines, and augmenting the base laundry facilities.
“We’ve been working long days – about 15 hours – sometimes to three in the morning,” said Cpl. Michael Hamilton, a water treatment specialist with Company A, 307th Brigade Support Battalion.
Hamilton “borrowed” two fuelers off the flight line to help fill water bladders for new showers and laundry facilities. Everyone does some kind of double duty, he said.
Thousands of sandbags stacked around living quarters and workspaces, the establishment of new entry control points to the outside world, the emplacement of artillery and mortars, and other security measures have made the base more secure against attack, said Kim.
One of the buildings has been modified to house a dentist, physical therapist, environmental health specialist, and a behavioral health professional.
“It’s been amazing,” said Maj. Murray Reefer, the dentist with 1st BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. “All of the battalions here contributed to building this place. They did a great job.”
Kim said there are more improvements planned, including a water production facility and a new Morale, Welfare and Recreation center with a gym and dozens of computers and phones for Soldiers to contact home.
“We’ve come a long way since our first troops got here in February,” said Kim.