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1st FSSG builds better billeting for 1st Marine Division unit

22 Oct 2004 | Cpl. Matthew R. Jones

Under the blazing Iraqi sun there is a buzz in the air. It's the buzz of a saw, followed by the hum of a drill and the crack of a hammer.

The Marines of Engineering Company C, Combat Service Support Battalion 7, 1st Force Service Support Group, began building permanent construction huts for the Marines of Regimental Combat Team 7 here recently.  First FSSG provides logistical support, such as medical supplies, food, water, and equipment repair, to the I Marine Expeditionary Force, which commands all Marine forces in Iraq.

Currently the Marines live in large canvas tents, which are susceptible to fires and have a lifespan of only a few years in the Iraqi desert.  The C-huts are made of wood, which is less susceptible to fire than the kerosene soaked canvas the tents are made of.

The C-huts will not only provide an enhanced living environment for the Marines, they will also be safer from fire and the harsh elements common in the Iraqi desert, according to Capt. Andy S. Watson, company commander, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7.

Safer to use with air conditioners, heating units and power outlets, the new C-huts will provide a better living environment for Marines. They are also more durable and less flammable then tents. Numerous tent fires were reported at camps throughout Iraq last year.

"Ideally, we will be able to tear down the tents and (move all the) Marines into C-huts," said Watson, 33, a native of Irvine, Calif.

The first four C-huts are complete and the current plan calls for the Marines to build a total of 20 C-huts by Jan. 2005 to house the next major influx of Marines.  The Marines of Engineering Company Charlie are tasked to fulfill the needs of RCT-7.

The Marines of RCT-7 look forward to living in the hardened structures instead of the cloth tents.  Many of the tents are in need of repair with holes in the floor and rips in the side.

"The C-huts keep the dirt out better and have power outlets which make them seem a little more like home," said Cpl. Jay E. Mitchell, 24, a native of Shreveport, La., from Company B, 3rd Amphibious Assault Battalion, who has lived in both tents and C-huts during his deployment in Iraq.

The Marines rely on some of their more experienced construction workers in order to construct the huts. Many members of the reserve unit work construction as their civilian profession. The unit has been able to use the Marines knowledge to be able to build the C-huts quicker and more efficiently, according to Lance Cpl Pete K. Carrey, 24, a native of Peoria Ill.

"The support of CSSB 7 has been amazing.  They have been ready, willing and able to help on any project," added Watson.