KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan —Afghanistan Engineer District-South marked its inactivation after four years of delivering critical infrastructure projects in Afghanistan with a ceremony held on Kandahar Airfield July 11.
Over the course of four years, the district’s technical experts completed nearly 200 projects valued at $1.4 billion that improved the safety, security and well-being of Afghans, U.S. and coalition forces.
During his remarks, Afghanistan Engineer District-South Commander Col. Vincent V. Quarles, a resident of Stafford, Va., thanked Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Maj. Gen. Michael Eyre, USACE Transatlantic Division commander, for the opportunity to command approximately 400 competent and dedicated professionals. Quarles also urged district employees, whom he refers to as ‘the family,’ a culture he fostered through addressing the needs and concerns of employees, to never forget the pivotal role each member played in setting the conditions for a brighter future for Afghanistan.
“Through our power, water, and transportation projects you diligently worked to improve the lives of Afghan civilians. By constructing installations for Afghan National Security Forces, you enabled Afghan soldiers and police to live, work, and train in the proper facilities so they could better serve and protect. You have done everything this mission has asked of you and more. Thank you for your commitment to your craft and dedication to project delivery,” Quarles said.
Eyre remarked that Quarles built “an atmosphere of camaraderie not seen anywhere else in the Army Corps of Engineers,” and added that, “Col. Vince Quarles represents the very best the Army has to offer in senior engineer leaders. His dynamic leadership and family ethos helped steer his team to great success building quality facilities for the Afghan National Security Forces and critical infrastructure that will enable independence and economic growth in Afghanistan.”
The Afghanistan Engineer District-South was activated August 3, 2009 to better manage an increase in capacity development projects in Afghanistan. USACE is the largest public engineering agency in the world and holds the expertise and authority to oversee construction projects on behalf of the U.S. Army. About 1100 personnel have served with the district. At its peak, the district employed about 400 people – military, civilian and contractors. The workforce also included Afghan citizens. The district designed and constructed projects in three broad categories:
• Afghan National Security Forces- These projects, specifically for the national army and national police, included complete operating bases, training ranges, hospitals and police headquarters compounds.
• U.S. military construction- Projects such as airfields, barracks, warehouses and medical facilities to support U.S. Forces.
• Afghanistan Sustainable Development Program- Public works such as roads, water and power projects for the Afghan people.
The district incorporated lessons learned and relied on construction techniques, such as arch-span construction, to save time and money and implemented austere construction standards that are sustainable by Afghans. Simpler designs, with low-fuel requirements, will be easier and more cost-effective for Afghans to operate and maintain well into the future. To that end, the district implemented an operations and maintenance training program for Afghan laborers who will operate and maintain the ANSF facilities the district has built. Hundreds of laborers have completed the training.
As more projects have been delivered and Afghans are assuming the lead in operations and maintenance of critical infrastructure, the scale of operations has decreased. So too has the need for the Afghanistan Engineer District-South, as a well as a sister district in the north. In their place now stand two smaller area offices subordinate to the newly-activated Transatlantic Afghanistan District, with its headquarters in Kabul. The new district will continue the work of building facilities for the ANSF and critical infrastructure for Afghans.