Archive

Archive for the ‘Contingency Operations’ Category

Small businesses a vital part of the team

December 12th, 2011

Maj. Gen. Merdith W.B. (Bo) Temple addresses the audience at the 2011 SAME Small Business Conference in Washington, D.C.

Did you know that small businesses in the U.S. represent 99 percent of all employer firms, and employ about half of all private sector employees? Small businesses have generated 65 percent of the net new jobs over the past 17 years, and hire 43 percent of high tech workers, including scientists, engineers, computer programmers and others.

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) understands the importance of small businesses. In Fiscal Year 2011, 42.5 percent of all USACE contract obligations were awarded to small businesses at a total value of $8.1 billion. I am very proud that our teams not only met but exceeded our assigned goals this year in every category, including awards to Small Disadvantaged, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned, Women-Owned and HUBZone businesses.

Recently, Corps leaders and our hard-working acquisition professionals, as well as their counterparts from other Department of Defense (DOD) agencies, participated in the Society of Military Engineers’ annual Small Business Conference for DOD Engineering, Construction and Environmental Programs. This event and others like it offer small businesses vital information and training to prepare them to work with the government, while allowing us to learn how their companies can help the Corps serve the military and the Nation.

If you take a look back at what the Corps has accomplished over the past year, you will see clearly the importance of our small business and industry partners. After five years of intense effort, we met our commitments to deliver $11 billion of Base Realignment and Closure projects to our military customers and provide 100-year risk reduction to the citizens of New Orleans with the massive $14 billion Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System. Our teams were on the ground this year helping communities recover from tornadoes and hurricanes and managing historic flooding throughout much of the country. Where the Corps has served our Nation, small businesses have played a vital role. The same is true overseas, where we are reaching out and working with local contractors in Europe, Asia and Afghanistan to build Host Nation Capacity.

It takes the whole team – USACE and our federal partners, state and local agencies, tribal nations, special interest groups, academia and industry – to deliver sustainable engineering solutions and the Small Business community is a very important part of our success.

Afghanistan, Civil Works, Contingency Operations, Contracting, Emergency Response, Gulf Coast Recovery, Iraq, Military Programs, Partnership, Small Business

A Year of Helping People

November 9th, 2011

2011 was a busy year for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as we executed more than $40 billion and served the Army and the Nation, both at home and abroad.   To find out more about our work this year, check out this video featuring Acting Commanding General and Acting Chief of Engineers Major General Merdith W. B. (Bo) Temple.



YouTube DoDLive

 

Afghanistan, Civil Works, Contingency Operations, Gulf Coast Recovery, Iraq, Uncategorized

President Releases USACE Civil Works Budget

February 14th, 2011

President Obama released the 2012 Civil Works budget today, which outlines the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ non-military funded programs and projects for next year.

Click here for a state-by-state breakdown of the FY 12 Army Civil Works Budget: http://www.usace.army.mil/cecw/pid/pages/cecwm_progdev.aspx

This budget provides an effective pathway for us to help create jobs, support economic development and global competitiveness, and restore and protect critical and vital aquatic ecosystems. It also reflects the realities of our Nation’s fiscal status. As with other federal agencies across government, this year’s budget is less than in prior years, and it is up to us to ensure that we use the funds with which we are entrusted in the most efficient and effective ways possible…and we will!

The greatest percentage of our resources will be used on projects that provide the highest returns on the Nation’s investment. This includes Dam Safety projects that are in the greatest need of repair — we have 692 dams that we either operate or own — projects that will reduce the risk of loss of life, projects that will mitigate environmental losses and advance a number of our environmental missions, and on-going projects that we can complete or make significant progress on with these funds.

We have 92 construction projects in the FY12 budget. This includes 55 flood and storm damage reduction projects, 19 aquatic ecosystem restoration projects, 16 navigation-related projects, and two hydropower mitigation projects.

About 34 percent of the budget supports the nation’s inland waterways and coastal navigation network, which is particularly important when you consider that nearly $2 trillion worth of trade travels up, down, in, and out of U.S. harbors and waterways. The efficient and effective movement of waterborne cargo is a critical component of the national economy, because it reduces the costs of goods and services for American consumers and supports the global competitiveness. The budget also supports projects and studies for a number of significant aquatic ecosystems, including South Florida and the Everglades.

FY 2012 will be an exciting year in our efforts to provide valuable engineering services to our Nation. We are fully committed to supporting the President’s priorities to secure the homeland, revitalize the economy, and restore and protect the environment. We are proud to serve this great Nation, and we look forward to our continued mission of BUILDING STRONG.

Best,

Van

BUILDING STRONG®

Civil Works, Contingency Operations, Levees, Locks and Dams

Help for Haiti

January 15th, 2010

The devastation in Haiti is, in a word, heartbreaking. I hope that you’ll join Paula and me in praying for the people of that nation, for those around the world who are still awaiting word on their loved ones, and for the thousands of volunteers, rescue teams, aid workers and service members who are there, or on their way to help.

At the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, we are gearing up and ready to support as needed. We are plugged into the State Dept., USAID, Federal Emergency Management Agency and US Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) and are ready to assist however any of those organizations need us.

We do have four engineers deploying today to support, 1 civil, 1 structural, 1 electrical, 1 hydrological. We also have two 8-person teams from our South Atlantic Division office who are on alert and prepared to deploy. That office has also identified and is preparing additional structural engineers for possible deployment.

In addition, we’ve alerted the 249th Engineer Battalion, which provides emergency power, to be ready to go on a moment’s notice, and have our best subject matter experts for commodities, infrastructure, navigation and debris removal standing by, as well.

So many people are looking for a way to help, and if you would like to give, I encourage you to go to USAID’s website for a list of ways you can make a difference.

This situation will continue to develop in the coming days, weeks and months – and I am sure that our role will continue to grow. I’ll keep you posted…

Contingency Operations, Emergency Response, International and Interagency Services , ,

A New Era in Iraq

October 26th, 2009

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 , , , ,

Hold the Line! The Cavalry is Coming!

July 17th, 2009

I just got back from a great trip to Afghanistan, and I just wanted to share with you some of the amazing things we’re doing there, under some unbelievably challenging circumstances. 

This was a new facility we're building at Kandahar Air Field to in and out-process the onslaught of people expected in the Kandahar area as the Coalition mission in Afghanistan ramps up

This was a new facility we're building at Kandahar Air Field to in and out-process the onslaught of people expected in the Kandahar area as the Coalition mission in Afghanistan ramps up

It was 108 degrees with dust and wind galore in Kandahar, where we are getting ready to launch a new district office to help manage the incredibly challenging workload there. Afghanistan Engineer District (AED) South will provide some much needed relief to our office in the north, which is bursting at the seams with people and work.
AED’s workload has increased more than a $1 billion in the last year, and is expected to increase another $2 billion plus next year. So I kept telling them “Hold the line! The Cavalry is coming!” because relief is on the way.

Our big priorities there are all about helping set the country up for a secure and stable future. Most of our work is building facilities for the Afghan National Security Forces, and to support the soldiers and marines heading into country with the recent increase in manning.

We're building lots of new "hooches" or "CHUs," which stands for Compartmentalized Housing Unit, to make the hundreds of employees at AED South feel more at home

We're building lots of new "hooches" or "CHUs," which stands for Compartmentalized Housing Unit, to make the hundreds of employees at AED South feel more at home

That’s everything from barracks and helipads, to recreation facilities and office space.  But last year, we created a Water and Infrastructure Branch at AED to help bring the Corps of Engineers’ expertise on water to Afghanistan, and it seems like that couldn’t have come at a better time.

I attended the first-ever water conference held in Afghanistan – with all of the appropriate ministers who oversee water and energy, and everyone acknowledged that Afghanistan needs a national level water resource management plan. I also had an opportunity to meet with Ambassador Eikenberry while I was there. He told me that everywhere he goes, Afghans report to him that their highest priority is clean water. Well, we’re going to help them get there.

As always on these trips, the highlight for me is getting a chance to hang out with the unsung heroes, the hundreds of AED employees who voluntarily came from all over the world to leave Afghanistan better than they found it.  This time, I also got to visit the 4th and 19th Engineer Battalions as well as the Navy’s 25NCR – and let me just tell ya – these guys are heroes, driving over IEDs a couple of times a week and getting right back into the fight. Amazing. They inspire me – and I hope they inspire you, too. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers, will ya?

This sign just cracks me up

This sign just cracks me up

I also got to participate in the change of command at AED. Col. Michael McCormick is now the commander, leading all of these passionate folks to success

I also got to participate in the change of command at AED. Col. Michael McCormick is now the commander, leading all of these passionate folks to success

Afghanistan, Contingency Operations, International and Interagency Services , , ,

Supporting Soldiers, Civilians and Families

February 26th, 2008

(Originally posted Feb 26, 2008)

I recently gave Defense of Freedom Medals- the civilian equivalent to the Purple Heart- to Natalie and Jarrod for IED wounds received in Iraq. They, along with our other 800 civilians deployed in OIF/OEF, are courageous and committed to getting ‘er done over there. I stand in awe.

Natalie’s and Jarrod’s injuries put the spotlight on how we take care of wounded Civilian warriors and their Families. We succeeded because of the extraordinary efforts of COL Ray Midkiff and his team in Louisville (and many others), but we also learned we could have had things wired better for our Civilians and their Families-to do them justice.

We’re now fast-tracking our efforts to create a value-adding Family Readiness Program, with standardized procedures for helping with pre-, during-, and post-deployment issues.

In early February, dozens of USACE employees and their family members teamed up to take this on. At the end of their time together, representatives outbriefed a number of needed actions. Using this as a kick start, we made a commitment to begin in earnest to build the USACE Family Readiness Program for our employees – Civilians and Soldiers (Active Duty, Reserve and Guard). This week, we are reconvening and expanding a HQ Family Readiness Project Development Team (PDT) to address the issues raised — to include participation in the Army’s family programs, clarification of casualty management and medical processes, and improvement in the way we deploy our team members and bring them home. One exciting development is that we have a commitment from HQ Department of the Army to provide 10 Army Integrated Family Support Network Specialists to help us in our efforts. Timelines and specific arrangements are working now to make that a reality.
The Corps is absolutely committed to taking care of our people and their families. We are making great progress with this initiative. If you have a passion to help in this area, please contact your leadership and get involved. It takes a “Village”!

Afghanistan, Contingency Operations, Family Readiness, International and Interagency Services, Iraq, Military Programs , , , , , , , , ,

Iraq Reconstruction

February 13th, 2008
(Originally Posted Feb 13, 2008) 
When I first took command, I sat down with all of my senior leaders and developed the priorities and tenets that will drive this organization during my tenure. One of the tenets was to have transparent communication, and thanks to technology, that’s easier than I thought!  So I’d like to dedicate my first posting to one of our Corps priorities – supporting the Global War on Terror.
 
A couple of weeks ago, I visited the Corps offices in Iraq and was able to tour a few of the projects our dedicated servicemembers, Civilians and contractors are working so hard on. I was there to mark the Gulf Region Division’s (GRD) 4th anniversary in Iraq, and it was awe inspiring to reflect on how much this organization has done for Iraq and its people. With more than 800 Civilian and military personnel currently deployed to the region, we have completed more than 4,300 projects along side some 40,000 Iraqis. When talking with our teammates at GRD, I found that their experiences in Iraq have given them a new and positive perspective on life. I am humbled by their sacrifices.
We had big plans for the trip with lots of projects to see, but unfortunately, the weather had other things in mind, so we had to pass on some of our original scheduled site visits. But in addition to our time in Baghad at GRD, I was able to visit Balad Air Base and As Sulaymaniyah.
 
One project I’d like to talk about is the renovation of Cham Chamal Prison in As Sulaymaniyah, in northeast Iraq. The facility was built years ago under Saddam Hussein, who used it as a prison to lock away thousands of Kurds; still a very sensitive subject for the Kurdish people in the region. Today, a Kurdish contractor is doing the renovations and upgrades, and work is well under way and on schedule, to make it into a high security confinement facility that the government of Iraq can use for years to come.
 
But one thing you just don’t see much of in the mainstream media, is the quality of life improvements I was able to see first hand: busy streets, markets overflowing with fruits and vegetables, and people going about their daily routines – all very positive signs of progress for that region.
 
Throughout Iraq, there is major progress to report. The country has more capacity to generate power today than during the Saddam Regime, and we’re spreading it more equitably across the country. Our efforts have almost doubled Iraq’s ability to generate power. There are families in Anbar Province that have never had power before – and now they do! Essential services, like hospitals, water sewage pump stations and fire stations have power 24 hours a day. There’s a 3 tiered approach to distribution, which is that first, essential services get power, then what remains is filtered to the government buildings, and then to the residents and private businesses, so that’s why some people, in Baghdad for example, who used to get power all the time, are experiencing less than before – but throughout the country it is a major improvement.
 
Add to that the fact that we are chasing an ever-changing goal – demand 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.
 
I was really disappointed that we were unable to visit the Basrah Children’s Hospital, which was one of the stops nixed for weather issues. But, the progress there is really promising – it’s now close to 80% complete. Along with Project HOPE, we are committed to complete the hospital project on schedule, and I am going to try again next time to be able to see it in person.
 
Looking ahead to the future, we remain committed to integrating Iraqi women and women-owned businesses as a component of building the workforce and infrastructure as Iraq gets closer to managing all of these services on its own.
 
In my view, winning in Iraq and Afghanistan takes more than military efforts alone. The work our leaders and teammates are doing on the infrastructure, in direct coordination with the Iraqi ministries, is building capacity and strengthening their own capabilities. I am extremely proud of the men and women of the Corps, who have a key role in this fight.
 
Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you. I look forward to the dialog!
 
Best, Van

Contingency Operations, Corps Projects, Infrastructure, International and Interagency Services, Iraq, Military Programs , , , , , , , , , , , , ,