Monday, February 06, 2006

We're winning the war on terror #5

From the Washington Post, posted at Today In Iraq

At Al Taqaddum air base, one of two large airfields in the province used by the United States and destined to be a logistics hub, 50 Seabees are repairing the dilapidated runways where, before 1991, Iraqi jets flew out to drop chemical weapons on Iraq's Kurdish minority."

Seriously old-fashioned" is how Chief Petty Officer Jose Torres of Uvalde, Texas, describes working conditions at Al Taqaddum. On Jan. 19, he met with Turkish contractors helping build a concrete plant that will support the runway repairs. A shortage of heavy equipment means the contractors have been hauling wet concrete in buckets.

Equipment shortages, the poor quality of local materials, harsh winter weather and frequent mortar attacks by insurgents complicate the Seabees' work. "It's not a normal contract situation," said Chief Petty Officer Torres, a steelworker, comparing his work with construction in the United States." Electricity here is a mess. It's a disaster," said electrician Charles Jacobs of Marksville, La. His job at Al Taqaddum is to look after a decrepit Iraqi electrical grid that he says presents a serious fire hazard.

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