Baltimore District team deploys to support an overseas contingency operation

Published Feb. 11, 2014

A nine-person team of specialists deployed Feb. 8 to support a U.S. Army – Central Command mission.

Known as the 71st Engineer Detachment now under the command of Maj. Timika Wilson, the FEST-A (Forward Engineer Support Team – Advanced) team flew to Kuwait enroute to Amman, Jordan, to replace a similar team from Europe District.  FEST-A will be part of an on-going U.S. task force established to build local capabilities and help provide aid for thousands of refugees coming in from neighboring Syria.  This Baltimore District team will bring its technical expertise to perform site assessments and development.

Wilson, a ceramic engineer and 16 year Army veteran from Union, S.C., said “We are building on what the Europe District has done for the last six months.”

At an informal Feb. 5 luncheon organized by the district’s executive office, Lt. Col. Brad Endres, deputy district commander, congratulated the team.

The FEST-A team includes four Soldiers and five civilian engineers.  The Baltimore District engineers are Dr. Robert Wright (civil), Capt. Alexander Sudyk (mechanical), Michael Weiner (structural), Arlene Weiner (environmental) and Jim Green (cartographer). Joining the team from Huntsville Center is Susan VanDerback, an electrical engineer.  The enlisted experts are Sgt. First Class Adrin Young (noncommissioned officer in charge), and augmenting the team from Fort Bragg, N.C., is Sgt. First Class Douglas Eshenbaugh, Prime Power specialist.  

The very detailed planning and preparation for this deployment began months ago and included recruiting new members as well as equipment training and medical clearance.  While Maj. Wilson and SFC Young are permanently assigned to the FEST team, all of the civilians are volunteers for the team and this deployment.  A total of 16 people received training. While this deployment only required nine people, the others are fully trained and ready if needed.

“We look forward to hearing about your success and welcoming you home in six months,” said Col. Trey Jordan, Baltimore District commander, at the team’s departure from Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

The FEST-A team has been called on for expert support in other overseas contingency operations. In 2012, they deployed to Afghanistan and in 2011, the team supported three exercises in Thailand and Korea.