Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Civil Engineers Improve Ties, Infrastructure in Timor-Leste

U.S. Navy civil engineers completed two projects at schools in Dili, Timor-Leste on June 19 as part of an ongoing initiative to support the Timor-Leste government’s efforts to improve infrastructure and quality of life for the Timorese.

“Seabees” of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 40 have been working with local government officials, the U.S. Embassy and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) since February 2009 to identify priority education and health care infrastructure projects that their skill sets can best support.

According to a Navy news story, the recently completed projects included renovation of the electrical system and construction of a 25-square foot pump house that feeds a well water tank servicing school children and their families in the area of an intermediate school. Additionally, a water storage unit was installed, and an existing pump house repaired at a primary school. Both projects were funded by U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) through the Humanitarian Assistance program.

At the request of the Timor-Leste Government, an advance team of eight Seabees arrived in Dili in February to conduct coordination, and since April, more than 20 Seabees have been working at multiple sites and on multiple initiatives, including fostering military-to-military relationships and training opportunities with counterparts in the Timor Leste Defence Force.

As noted on the U.S. Embassy’s website, President José Ramos-Horta visited the Seabees in late May for a first-hand look at the work they are doing, and to thank them for their efforts.

The Seabees’ presence in Timor Leste – which will continue throughout the year – supports PACOM’s goal of contributing capabilities, where possible, toward a whole-of-government approach that addresses shared concerns and needs, while cultivating military-to-military relationships and capacity building, resulting in projects that directly benefit the local populace.

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