View Full Version : Better Living Planned For Camp Leatherneck

Rocky C
07-14-10, 10:47 AM
By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Jul 14, 2010 11:16:58 EDT
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CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — Though this rugged base is unlikely to ever lose its austere nature, major improvements are underway as the Corps continues to utilize it as the main hub of operations in Afghanistan.
Upgrades planned for Camp Leatherneck include new fitness centers, better housing and a $200-million runway that stretches longer than two miles.

The upgrades have been in the works for months, and signify that even if a military drawdown begins in Afghanistan next summer, the Corps will still make strong use of the base for several more years.

“A lot of people who come here think it’s an established camp,” said Capt. Thano Pravong, the base commandant. “It’s not. We’ve only been here two years.”

Last fall, Navy Seabees pushed the berms at Leatherneck back with heavy construction equipment, taking a 600-acre base and expanding it to 1,550 acres, roughly 2.4 square miles. Since then, construction has surged all over the base.

With the help of Navy Seabees and Air Force officials, who oversee some of the largest projects, Marines based at Leatherneck are moving in stages into new life-support areas, or LSAs, each of which has space for about 2,000 people in a series of one-story prefabricated buildings that are a step up over existing 20-man tents.

There were about 14,000 people at Camp Leatherneck in the spring, but the Corps is planning to eventually have 18,000 to 20,000, counting all civilian employees on base, said Air Force Maj. Todd Graham, an engineer at Leatherneck with the 777th Base Engineer Emergency Force Squadron, out of Kandahar Airfield.

Among the upgrades coming:

• A new runway. Construction crews are in the process of pouring concrete for a 3,828-yard runway — that’s more than two miles — at Camp Bastion, an adjacent base that British forces built in 2006 and now share with Marines. The new runway will enable U.S. forces to land behemoth C-5 cargo planes and 747 passenger planes, neither of which flies to Bastion currently. Most of the Corps’ cargo is now delivered to the bases by C-17s and C-130s, smaller planes that can use the base’s existing 2,350-yard runway.

• More gyms. There is currently only one gym in a basketball court-sized tent at Camp Leatherneck. It’s nearly always overcrowded, and is open 24 hours per day. By the end of the year, the base will have four fitness facilities, with specific facilities devoted to cardiovascular health, weight-lifting and CrossFit workouts. The fourth gym will be mixed use, with a variety of fitness equipment, Graham said.

• A chapel complex. Leatherneck currently has almost no facilities for religious programming. Soon, that will change, with a main chapel that will accommodate 200 people and two smaller chapels that will each seat about 50 to 75, Marine officials said. The new construction will provide more space to Navy officials who run religious programming for the Corps.

• Calling centers. The Corps is beginning to distribute new calling centers, allowing troops easier access to call home. Each center is contained in a 40-foot-long, 8-foot-wide shipping container, with several phones inside. There already is one on base, with two more planned.

• A new chow hall. Leatherneck currently has one chow hall. By the end of the year, there will be two, each capable of serving 4,000 Marines per meal, Graham said.

• A new PX. More than 14,000 Marines use the current exchange, with about 3,000 square feet of sales floor near Leatherneck’s chow hall, leading to long lines and empty shelves. U.S. forces will address that within the next few months by building a much larger exchange in a big-top tent, with about 10,000 square feet of display area and more storage.
Nearly all of the projects cost less than $750,000, meaning they can be built without congressional approval. Most of them have not yet been put up for bid, Graham said.

Despite all the upgrades, Marine officials say they will maintain the expeditionary nature of the base. Leatherneck will never have a boardwalk that resembles the strip of shops, restaurants and athletic fields at Kandahar Airfield, and nearly all of its roads are still covered in trap rock or hard-packed dirt, rather than pavement.

Top Marine officials are so serious about maintaining the austere nature of Leatherneck that a proposal to build a Green Beans coffee shop on base was rejected by leadership, Pravong said. Unlike Kandahar Airfield and military installations in Kabul, Leatherneck doesn’t have a single facility devoted specifically to getting a caffeine fix.

“They wanted to maintain that expeditionary mentality,” Pravong said of Leatherneck’s leadership. “As a result, a lot of the projects that you see us do take on those characteristics.”

07-14-10, 04:26 PM
"Though this rugged base is unlikely to ever lose its austere nature"


07-17-10, 01:28 AM
"Though this rugged base is unlikely to ever lose its austere nature"


My thoughts exactly. Are you kidding me? A British Starbucks, a few "hot" chow halls (with ice cream) and alot of really good food gyms, PX's, internet spots, etc is considered rugged...whatever. i didnt shower for a few months in 09/10. The need a BK for real though to not make it so rugged.

Backhaus 1103
09-05-10, 09:46 PM
I call it Camp Lejeunistan.
If you think that place is bad go to Kandahar...HOLY ****!
I hit that place on the way back. That is not Afghanistan and anyone who goes on "deployment" to one of these places doesn't rate a deployment or the ribbons that come with it.

I wouldn't want to see what Bagram looks like.

09-07-10, 07:48 PM
I didnt really like Kandahar as we where passing through it, it was disorganized a clearly a direct example of why nato cant have anything nice.

09-07-10, 08:25 PM
I call it Camp Lejeunistan.
That is not Afghanistan and anyone who goes on "deployment" to one of these places doesn't rate a deployment or the ribbons that come with it.

Exactly. I'm headed there soon, and I keep telling people" we arnt deploying, we are PCSing to afganistan."

01-21-11, 06:03 AM
There putting a Green Bean here on Leatherneck as I speak.

01-27-11, 11:25 PM
Are you serious? Our gym was made out of bamboo and rolls of barbed wire. And our chow hall was made out of hesco wire and bricks from a building we blew up. Well at least we didn't have to blouse our boots and shave for days at a time! Or be around O's.

I spent 8 days in dwyer and lost my mind. You can only eat and work out so much in one day!