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Archive for October, 2009

A New Era in Iraq

October 26th, 2009
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On Friday, we inactivated our division headquarters in Iraq, the Gulf Region Division, which I’ve mentioned in this blog several times. This is good news! It means we’ve come a long way, and that we’re that much closer to being able to leave the country much better than we found it.

Maj. Gen Michael Eyre (left) and Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Mitch Prater (center) prepare to case the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ Gulf Region Division colors during an inactivation ceremony at Al Faw Palace, Baghdad, Iraq.

Maj. Gen Michael Eyre (left) and Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Mitch Prater (center) prepare to case the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ Gulf Region Division colors during an inactivation ceremony at Al Faw Palace, Baghdad, Iraq.

From the day the division stood up on January 25, 2004, our selfless, dedicated team of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Civilians and contractors has been helping to rebuild a war-torn nation that had few essential services.  Today, GRD has completed more than 5,200 projects that are providing electricity, clean water, transportation, police and fire stations, medical care, educational opportunities and – most importantly – hope, to the people of Iraq. 

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has deployed in support of our mission in Iraq, past and present – AND their Families – I am so unbelievably proud of your service – and your accomplishments!

We are not finished in Iraq – in fact – we still have two district offices – the Gulf Region District and Gulf Region South district – which have a lot of work to do to finish up our efforts there and complete our remaining projects. But, the division inactivation brings us one step closer to closing this chapter, and opening another – one that we hope will include a life-long, positive, diplomatic relationship between our two great nations. 

In addition to the inactivation of GRD today, yesterday we dedicated the USACE compound on Camp Victory, Iraq – now officially designated “Camp Wolfe” in honor of Navy Cmdr. Duane Wolfe. Wolfe was the officer-in-charge of the Al-Anbar Area Office, who was killed when an improvised explosive device (IED) struck the vehicle he was riding in outside of Fallujah, Iraq, earlier this year.  The designation ceremony was broadcast live via the internet to Wolfe’s family and friends in Los Osos, CA. Two other friends of GRD were killed in that attack, Terry Barnich, the deputy director of U.S. State Department’s Iraqi Transition and Assistance Office, and a USACE employee from the Jacksonville District – Dr. Maged Hussein, who was serving as director of the Office of Water Resources, Public Works and the Environment at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Cindi Wolfe, wife of Cmdr. Duane Wolfe, speaks to the guests via the internet at the ceremony to rename the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers compound on Camp Victory in honor of her husband.

Cindi Wolfe, wife of Cmdr. Duane Wolfe, speaks to the guests via the internet at the ceremony to rename the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers compound on Camp Victory in honor of her husband.

We have come a long way in Iraq – but at great sacrifice. Today, as we look forward to a bright future for Iraq, those people who remain deployed in service of this great nation – and their Families – are very much in my prayers.

Contingency Operations, International and Interagency Services, Iraq , , , ,

Supporting Our Wounded Warriors

October 16th, 2009

I am unbelievably proud of the Army’s commitment to taking care of our Wounded Warriors. As the father of a Wounded Warrior – and a friend to many more, I know it’s critical that we always remember, support and encourage these brave men and women, and honor their sacrifice.

There are a couple of different ways that we get to do that here at USACE. For one, we open our doors to Warriors in Transition who are still under treatment, so that they can work and still contribute to the mission, without being too far from their medical appointments. We’ve had a couple of terrific Soldiers come through headquarters.  They remind you how remarkable our Soldiers really are, and how much spirit – how much grit – they’ve got. We are also actively hiring wounded warriors who are transitioning out of an active duty role into civilian life.

This is a rock-climbing wall at Walter Reed Medical Center's Military Advanced Training Center, a facility we built in 2007 with world-class technology designed to help amputees returning from combat

This is a rock-climbing wall at Walter Reed Medical Center's Military Advanced Training Center, a facility we built in 2007 with world-class technology designed to help amputees returning from combat

Another way we try to help is something that we’re getting better and better at every day: awarding contracts to small businesses owned by Service Disabled Veterans (SDVs). As we just crossed into the new fiscal year, we’re now getting all the final numbers for fiscal 2009, and I am proud to say we broke our FY08 record of $543 million in contracts to SDVs,  by awarding $741 million this year.  A new pool and academy record!!  Not a bad jump, I’d say.

That $741 million represents about 2.81% of our total contract dollars – which is huge for us.   We’re bound and determined to crack the 3% mark for next year.

Contracting, Employment, Small Business , , , , , ,