Army Corps of Engineers-Meeting the Challenge Worldwide

By Van Antwerp, Robert L., Jr. | Army, October 2008 | Go to article overview

Army Corps of Engineers-Meeting the Challenge Worldwide


Van Antwerp, Robert L., Jr., Army


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is in the midst of a transformation focusing on Army and administration priorities and operating tenets.

The priorities are: support the global war on terrorism and the expeditionary mission; enhance the quality of support of soldiers, civilians, families and the public; complete transformation of the theater engineer commands; effectively prepare for and respond to disasters; enable Gulf Coast recovery; and deliver military, civil works, research and development, and regulatory programs and projects. In addition, USACE will operate based on the tenets of communicating transparently, focusing on the mission and teaming with industry.

This transformation is beginning to bear fruit, as many of our major accomplishments of the past year are directly in line with our priorities and tenets.

In our Gulf Region Division, it is truly inspiring to witness the impact our projects are having on the day-to-day lives of Iraqis. One can see busy streets, markets overflowing with fruits and vegetables, and people going about their daily routines-all very positive signs of progress for that region. With more than 800 civilian and military personnel currently deployed to the region, we have completed more than 4,300 projects with the help of nearly 40,000 Iraqis. Iraq has more capacity to generate electrical power now than during the Saddam regime, and it is distributed more equitably across the country. Some families in Anbar Province have power for the first time ever.

We are chasing an ever-increasing goal-demand for power has increased more than 70 percent since 2004 because Iraqis are purchasing more energy-intensive products such as air conditioners, refrigerators, computers and other electronics. This is a good thing-it means the economy is growing stronger. Even with this increased need for power, however, we are meeting approximately 50 percent of the country's electrical demand.

The country's medical care is also improving. We've completed 34 of 57 hospital projects, and we are 80 percent complete on construction of the Basrah Children's Hospital.

The children of Iraq are getting a better quality education now, with more than 1,000 schools repaired, constructed or expanded by the Corps of Engineers. That's an estimated 400,000 more students nationwide who will have the chance to get a quality education and make a difference in their country's future.

We are helping to jump-start Iraq's economy and lay a foundation for success by awarding more than 90 percent of our construction contracts to Iraqi-owned businesses. By boosting the economy and providing jobs and training, the Corps is helping to promote stability and security.

We also continue to work on essential projects that will help provide basic services and a secure and stable environment for the Afghan people. Signs of a growing economy and the Afghans' ability to self-govern are becoming more apparent each day, thanks to the efforts of nearly 300 civilian and military personnel at the Afghanistan Engineer District (AED).

The recent completion of the Drug Enforcement Agency National Interdiction Unit facility in Kabul has given the Afghans the ability to detain and try criminals, including drug traffickers. AED has also enhanced security by building more than 200 Afghan National Army and police sites throughout the country, with more than 300 additional such facilities currently under-or planned for-construction in 2008. This year, the district also completed the Joint Aviation Facility at the Kabul International Airport, which will host the Afghan National Army's Air Corps. This walled compound contains the largest metal structure in Afghanistan and will be the headquarters for about 4,000 Afghan Army Air Corps personnel.

One of the biggest success stories is the completion of the Afghanistan and Tajikistan Bridge of Friendship, which crosses the Pan] River. …

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