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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

So much to be thankful for…

December 21st, 2009

Well, the holidays upon us, and with that, all the last minute shopping for gifts, groceries and party supplies. For many, this year’s festivities will be more humble than years past, because so many people are cutting back due to the economy. And although there are many people in America who are struggling this year, I recently came across a story from one of our teammates in Afghanistan that just reminded me of how much we have to be thankful for, and how spoiled we really are. It’s so easy to take things for granted, because we are so blessed to live in this great nation.

I hope that you take a moment to check out this story by clicking here - it’s about some of our dedicated servicemembers and civilians serving overseas who are part of a group called “Volunteer Community Relations” (VCR), a command-directed outreach program that provides clothing, blankets, school and other supplies to Kabul’s poor and displaced, and Afghan refugees who are returning from Pakistan. VCR distributed 900 blankets and more than 500 bags filled with toys and school supplies to 300 families in need on the day of this story.  Here are some of the photos to give you a taste:

Volunteers distribute blankets to needy Afghan refugee families. The blankets were made by widows of Afghanistan National Police members. The Volunteer Community Relations program purchased them with proceeds from a donation to help the widows with their small business. (USACE photo by Hank Heusinkveld)

Volunteers distribute blankets to needy Afghan refugee families. The blankets were made by widows of Afghanistan National Police members. The Volunteer Community Relations program purchased them with proceeds from a donation to help the widows with their small business. (USACE photo by Hank Heusinkveld)

Young Afghan girls, excited by the arrival of their American guests, run towards a line where theyll find bags of toys. (USACE photo by Hank Heusinkveld)

Young Afghan girls, excited by the arrival of their American guests, run towards a line where they'll find bags of toys. (USACE photo by Hank Heusinkveld)

It’s a great little holiday (or any day) pick-me-up.  I hope that your holidays are filled with all the blessings that can only be found by giving of yourself to others. Be safe out there and have a great holiday and a very happy New Year!

Afghanistan, Miscellaneous "neat stuff" , ,

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 , , ,