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Corps Plays Role in Cybersecurity

January 8th, 2011

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is playing a key role in helping DoD and DHS increase our Nation’s cybersecurity. Our engineering, design and construction skills are helping build the important facilities that are needed to get the job done.

On Thursday, we began construction of a new $1.5 billion cybersecurity center at Camp Williams, Utah, which includes more than 100,000 square feet of computer space to help protect against cyber attacks. Not only will this facility help our Nation’s cybersecurity efforts, but it will also help energize the economy in an around Camp Williams by creating thousands of construction jobs and employ between 100 and 200 people once complete. In addition, we’re working hard to incorporate key sustainability elements to help reduce the facility’s impact to the environment.

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, and it will require the efforts of all of us to help keep our Nation’s critical infrastructure secure, resilient and built to last. We can be proud to be a part of the cyber revolution.

BUILDING STRONG®

Van

Cybersecuirty, International and Interagency Services

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 , , ,

Military Construction

June 5th, 2008
A few months ago, my friend Bo Temple, Deputy Commanding General for Military and International Operations, blogged about some of his experiences as he visited some of our military construction sites around the world. Well, I just got some updated information about our massive military construction efforts and I wanted to share the latest.
 
This is some of the new family housing in Korea

This is some of the new family housing in Korea

We are facing the largest military construction workload since World War II.  Between fiscal years 2008 and 2013, we will manage an Army military construction program totaling an estimated $39 billion. That is peaking right now, in 2008 and 2009, at about $10 billion per year, as we meet the intense demand brought about by Army transformation, global restationing and base realignment and closure.
 
Some of the accomplishments we’ll see from this include: 47 child development centers, accommodating nearly 9,500 children; 112 Armed Forces Reserve Centers or Army Reserve Centers; approximately 38,100 permanent barracks spaces and more than 66,500 training barracks spaces; over 1,200 Family housing units; 13 Brigade Combat Team complexes; and nearly 120 range facilities. 
And this is the inside view...

And this is the inside view...

This program is spread out all around the world. In the southwest at Fort Bliss, we’re delivering a building per week for the next five years. In the Pacific region, the Corps will continue the massive construction underway in Korea with Camp Humphreys planned as the new home of the U.S. Forces Korea in 2012.  Meanwhile, in Japan, massive construction efforts include airfields, operational facilities and housing to support a major realignment of bilateral forces in both mainland Japan and Okinawa.
The bottom line with our military construction mission is that we must ensure the Soldiers and their Families have facilities commensurate to the quality of their selfless service to the Nation, and I am proud that the Corps is a part of it!

Corps Projects, International and Interagency Services, Military Programs , , , , , , ,

USACE Around the World Part 1 Japan

March 14th, 2008

(Originally posted March 14, 2008)

Guest Posting by MG Bo Temple
LTG Van Antwerp asked me to share my experiences from my visit to Japan last month. In February, I spent some time with District Engineer Colonel Barrett Holmes and his team.
 
I had the pleasure of joining the Japan Engineer District at the annual Senior Engineer Conference, a joint forum sponsored by the District and the United States Forces Japan. At the conference, we discussed a variety of issues involving the current and future construction programs taking place throughout Japan.  The event was a big success due to the hard work of people like Keily, known by most as “Snoopy.”
 
During my trip, I visited a number of the key projects sites on the main Japanese island of Honshu, including a wharf upgrade project at Yokosuka where the U.S. Navy will soon deploy the USS George Washington and its crew. Our team is upgrading the berth itself, and building a high quality water facility, a new power station facility, and a series of utility tunnels that will connect the generation plant to the wharf upgrades. These projects wouldn’t be possible without the outstanding work of people like Arnold, the project engineer for the wharf upgrade, and Yoshio, the quality assurance representative and electrical engineer on the power upgrades.
A project briefing at the Iawakuni airstrip in Japan

A project briefing at the Iwakuni airstrip in Japan

From Yokosuka I traveled south to Iwakuni.  The folks there are literally moving mountains.  The Marine Corps requires a new runway, but the only way to expand the base is out into the water.  So, Setsuharu, and others on the team there, are making land where there was none. Through exemplary technical and leadership skills they relocated more than 21 million cubic meters of earth from a nearby mountaintop to create 533 acres of new land for the new runway.  Their close coordination with the Government of Japan, the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps made this project happen.  

My final stop was in Okinawa, where I visited the vast array of projects that our dedicated people are responsible for. Dawn, the Okinawa Area Engineer, and Dewai, the chief of Project Management Branch-Okinawa, have been instrumental in managing the diverse joint program throughout the island.
 
I visited a beautiful middle school that will be ready for students next year.  I was truly impressed by the quality of construction that the Ryukyu resident engineer, Shigeru, and the rest of the team are delivering.  These facilities are on par with the finest schools in any city in the United States – service members and their families who are considering an assignment in Okinawa can feel good about their quality of life.
 

In northern Okinawa, I visited a range construction program led by Norman.  He and his crew are working hard to ensure our troops have quality facilities to hone their war-fighting skills. Given the rugged terrain, they are employing a number of creative ideas to achieve the desired training effect on each range.
I had a great visit with the Japan Engineer District team – they truly are providing quality projects for the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their Families living and working in Japan.
Next time, I’ll tell you about my wild adventures going “north to Alaska!”

Corps Projects, Infrastructure, International and Interagency Services, Military Programs , , , , , , , ,

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , ,