Written by WO Donnie Matthews, Firefighter, 1 ESU
I must admit I was taken-aback somewhat by the magnitude of the task; that being designing a camp to house over 4,200 military personnel along with their equipment and vehicles. Keeping them warm, dry, fed, entertained, and hydrated were all part of our mandate, and our camp design had to be detailed accordingly. The camp occupants arrived with vehicles ranging from Gators to main battle tanks; presenting an additional set of challenges. Fortunately I was aligned with a group of very capable professionals from 1 ESU who rose to the challenge and designed an efficient and comfortable camp and then deployed to oversee its construction by a composite General Engineering Support Squadron.
The designing and planning process for the camp began in the Fall of 2014. The members of 1 ESU were informed of the number of occupants required and proceeded to develop a camp design. They formulated a plan to supply electricity, potable water, ablution facilities, garbage services, POL, sanitation services, heat, and fire protection for the camp occupants. WFE Techs, Electrical Distribution Techs, Electrical Generating System Techs, Structural Techs, Plumbing and Heating Techs, Combat Engineers, Survey Techs, and a Firefighter comprised this diverse team. The team also created a bill of materials for the camp infrastructure. After many changes, a set of tentative drawings were produced.
A site recce was conducted in late January. It was difficult to imagine the snow covered wasteland I was standing on could be transformed into a self-sufficient camp of 4,200 in just a few months. After a series of meetings and some field work by our Drafting and Surveying Section, we returned to Kingston to produce our final plan. The final phase of the project was the camp build. The Drafting and Surveying Section arrived in late March to stake out the tents and other features. When the build team arrived a week later we were greeted by hundreds of orange flags scattered throughout the training area. The 1 ESU team was on site to ensure the building of the camp infrastructure preceded according to plan, to offer technical advice and guidance, and to perform quality control during the camp build. 1 ESU was also tasked with designing and supervising the construction of a 300m road at the camp.
There were numerous organizations that provided the expertise and manpower required for the build. A Construction Troop from 4 ESR, a Field Troop and Heavy Equipment Section from 5 RGC, and general duties soldiers from 1 R22R, 3 R22R, 12 RBC, and LdSH formed a composite General Engineering Support Squadron tasked with the camp construction. The Squadron was given only 17 days to complete the build but due to the very hard work by the Sappers and Soldiers, and with the luck of some great weather, the job was completed on-time. After weeks of long days, the hundreds of orange flags were gradually replaced by hundreds of tents and other elements of the camp infrastructure. Specifically, the Squadron constructed 420 four-section mod tents for accommodations, installed ten ablution and shower units, established a generator farm and ran power to the entire camp, constructed work and recreational spaces, and built 300m of MLC 60 all-weather road. In the end the hard work of the Sappers and Soldiers resulted in a small, temporary, town rising out of the sand of the Wainwright training area.