AL ASAD, Iraq -- Through coordinated efforts of Marines, soldiers and international civilian contractors, Al Asad has moved from relying on outside sources of electricity, to having the internal capability of supplying the whole air base with power.
After only 37 days, four of the 19 new Cummings generators that arrived here throughout the month of February, are up and running and the air base has more than enough power to meet current demands.
Previously relying on external power sources that were susceptible to enemy sabotage, power use has been kept to a minimum here. Over three hundred emergency back up generators around the air base supplied energy to the buildings and workspaces during numerous power outages and shortages caused by enemy saboteurs.
"The base is tied into the original Iraqi power grid," said Army Lt. Col. Joe L. Sieber, 326th Area Support Group director of construction management and engineering and native of Oklahoma City. "The new generators replace the outside energy source, and allow us to be completely self-sufficient when it comes to electricity."
When fully employed the 19 generators will be capable of producing 12 megawatts of electricity. Only four of the generators are necessary at the present time, because the current demand is only around 1.5 megawatts,.
"Electricity is like gold in a combat zone," said Army Col. George Harris, 326th Area Support Group commanding officer. "[The generators] keep us from sending Marines off base to repair power lines that the enemy has cut off. We are now in complete control of our power."
Although the generators arrived here completely assembled, and ready to start, the project required extensive coordination between the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), the garrison command and the civilian contractors responsible for running and maintaining the power grid.
"Without the logistical support of the 2nd MAW (Fwd), this project would have been a nightmare," said Army Maj. Eric G. Berwanger, 326th Area Support Group deputy director of construction management and engineering and native of Boonville, Mo. Finishing right on schedule, Berwanger said the hard work of the 2nd MAW (Fwd) facilities Marines allowed the project to run so smoothly.
"We provided vehicle and heavy equipment support, as well as military liaison for the arriving material," said Staff Sgt. Ryan S. Tracy, Marine Air Wing roadmaster and native of Burnsville, Minn. "We also drove vehicles and coordinated with the bulk fuel specialists from Combat Service Support Detachment 25. Basically, they told us what they needed, and we got it done."
The generators were manufactured in the United Kingdom, and are maintained and run by International American Products Worldwide Services, a multifaceted company that provides products and services to public and private sector companies and government agencies around the world.
"This is a 'turn key' project," said Bruce E. Hurley, site manager and native of Taylor, Mich. "The contractor starts and finishes construction and then 'hands the key' over to the purchaser. In this case the key is electricity."
The mechanical and electrical installation took Hurley's skilled workers only six days to complete. He said the whole process ran smooth from start to finish.
Most of the servicemembers and civilian contractors working aboard the air base will not notice the change over in power source initially. Power usage has been kept to a minimum here, but according to Harris, the war fighters of Al Asad will begin to see an improvement in getting power to the people.
"The opportunity to provide power to everyone who needs it will allow Al Asad to seem more like home," Sieber said. "At least you don't have to worry about the barber loosing power during the middle of your haircut."