From combat boots to rubber boots

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Natalie Filzen
  • 386 AEW Public Affairs

Ali Al Salem Air Base has come a long way since its inception. Deployed service members who arrived shortly after its inception were put into large tents by the dozen. For this reason, it was dubbed its moniker “tent city.”

Today, however, deployed members will more likely find themselves bunked in a trailer or a hardened building.

There were many craftsmen involved in building these facilities, including those from the 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force Squadron.

In January 2022, Prime BEEF continued renovating the interior and exterior of the explosive ordnance disposal facility. This first phase of their project is one of many to defend and improve the installations on this base.

As an expeditionary engineering group based out of Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Prime BEEF can go anywhere in the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility as needed. Established in October 1964, they support frontline construction, emergency management and a myriad of other specialized mission responsibilities.

The interior renovation to the EOD facility will create much needed toilet facilities, including a women’s bathroom, a shower, relocating the existing laundry room, and renovating the existing male restroom. The exterior renovation included pouring a 32 foot by 47 foot pad (approximately 31 cubic meters) for military arms, munitions and explosives storage with a perimeter fence and constructing a 1,000 square foot pre-engineered building addition for EOD storage.

The site lead, Tech. Sgt. Adrian Wilson, representing the 127th Wing from the Michigan Air National Guard, speaks briefly on the importance of the project.

“We’re doing this to improve [EOD] facilities and make their job a little bit easier,” Wilson said. “Right now, they don't have a way to store munitions. So it's really to expand.”

Since arriving at Ali Al Salem, these ‘dirt boys’, as they call themselves, have been able to prepare the cement pour and turn around their timetable to be ahead of schedule. From bare studs, they have built new showers, sinks and toilets that didn't exist there before.

Staff Sgt. Jared Campbell, representing the 171st Air Refueling Wing from the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, works as an architectural engineering program manager for a telecommunication company in his civilian life.


“This is my first deployment,” said Campbell. “I'm excited to learn more, not only from what the Air Force can teach me, but also what these different phases [of the project] can teach me through my AFSC and also collaborating and building camaraderie with other AFSCS within CE and outside CE as well.”

So far, every survey, excavation and pour takes them one step closer to helping other groups here, such as EOD, accomplish their mission.

For Wilson, the most rewarding part of the job is the finishing touches.

“I like taking something that's nothing, and then turning it into something that's gonna be there for, who knows how long, 30, 40, or 50 years.” Wilson said.

Buildings and facilities are continuously improving, but today these airmen laid down the foundation of a structure that will become a part of the historical footprint of the U.S. Air Force here.