by Staff Sgt. Stacia Zachary
At Forward Operating Base (FOB) Dwyer in Afghanistan, before the arrival of the 809th Expeditionary Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair (RED HORSE) Squadron, service-members were living in a British compound lined with tents and relying solely on supplies brought in from convoys and air drops.

Now, the RED HORSE mission is providing aerial access into this region of Helmand province.

"As U.S. forces produce smaller combat outposts in Helmand province to soldify our position in combating terrorism and rebuilding infrastructure in Afghanistan, [Forward Operating Base] Dwyer provides a hub for United States Forces-Afghanistan to put combat and medevac assets into use," says Capt. Vincent Rea, the 809th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron detachment officer in charge. "Having the capability to bring fixed and rotary aerial assets here is huge asset for service-members here."

The ongoing construction is turning FOB Dwyer into a major player in the current operations in southern Afghanistan. RED HORSE has several projects ranging from small, quality-of-life projects to larger-scale ventures. Current big-scheme projects include drilling well systems, building landing strips for fixed and rotary wing aircraft, as well as a operating a self-sufficient rock quarry.

"Since we've been here, RED HORSE has run a six-month marathon to get construction underway," Rea says. "The scope of this mission is immense and critical to current military operations."

The first milestone for the Airmen was the completion of a 200-foot by 2,000-foot helipad. Another completed project was witnessing the first C-130 Hercules touchdown on the assault landing strip which they not only initiated, but completed, too. The 4,300-foot airstrip opened the door for fixed-wing aircraft. The next big project for the horsemen is setting the foundation for a future C-17 Globemaster III concrete airstrip. With the dimensions of 8,600 feet by 120 feet, and budgeted at approximately $29 million, the scope of the mission is one of the largest here.

Besides harnessing local material to build the airstrip, construction projects also need water. Typically an arid region of Afghanistan, due to terrain as well as extreme heat, water is a sought-after commodity here.

"Before the wells were drilled and regular shipments of water supply established, water shortages have been almost perilous to the service-members here," Rea says.

A 12-man well drilling team was mobilized to drill three wells, delving more than 700 feet into the earth. The first well is solely for construction purposes. The two remaining wells are used for base life-support operations, such as bathing and cleaning. They produce up to 40 gallons per minute and help with water shortages.