KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — Lt. Gen. Robert L. Van Antwerp, commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, thanked members of USACE Afghanistan Engineer District — South, or AES, for their hard work, "during an exciting and challenging time," at a town hall meeting here Dec. 15.
The AES, Afghanistan's second Engineer district, was erected in August to assist the Kabul office with the increasing number of construction projects in Southern Afghanistan.
Much of the construction is a result of troop increases in Southern Afghanistan which began in February, said Col. Kevin J. Wilson, the commanding officer of AES.
"Currently we have over $3 billion worth of work going on in Afghanistan, and probably by the summer, when the dust settles from all the uplift, we'll have about $1.3 to 1.4 billion worth of that here," said Wilson.
"It's really warranted because of the dynamic, complex nature of [the situation] here," he said.
With President Barack Obama's announcement of another troop increase, the Engineers will be seeing a lot of work in the coming months, said Van Antwerp.
"Right now there are more than 20,000 troops at Kandahar Airfield alone and [all the incoming troops] are going to pass through here," Wilson said.
The work facing the Engineers is no small task, said Van Antwerp, because before work can even begin the materials have to survive a dangerous journey.
"Our business runs on materials. You have to bring in the lumber, you have to bring in the steel, you have to bring in the containers and all that. Transport isn't easy in this country — number one, the roads themselves, number two, coming through other countries to get here — there are just huge challenges in getting the materials here," said Van Antwerp.
However, he told the crowd of more than 100 people he was confident in USACE's ability to surmount the coming challenges.
The Engineers' virtues of leadership, disciplined thought and disciplined action are the keys to their success, he said.