TAM Employee Gains Professional Development on a Deployment

Transatlantic Middle East District
Published Feb. 21, 2024
Updated: Feb. 21, 2024
Andres Restrepo at TAM HQ

Andres Restrepo stands in front of a map of the Middle East at TAM Headquarters.

Andres Restrepo at TAM HQ

Andres Restrepo working at his desk at TAM headquarters.

When Andres Restrepo, a civil engineer with the Transatlantic Middle East District (TAM), received an email asking him to volunteer with a special deployment with the U.S. Army, it only took him minutes to reply, “I am interested in volunteering for this assignment.” Within hours he received confirmation that he had been selected for this position.

Restrepo joined a FEST-A EN DET based out of the Alaska District. This unit is known as Forward Engineer Support Team – Advance Engineer Detachment. The team consisted of a Major officer-in-charge (OIC), Sergeant 1st class non-commissioned officer-in-charge (NCOIC) and six U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) civilians with expertise in geographic information systems (GIS), and civil, structural, mechanical, environmental, and electrical engineering. These deployments typically last six months.

Restrepo explained, “I was intrigued to be deployed to an environment civilians would not normally go.”   

“The initial process was a bit nerve-wracking,” Restrepo said, “A typical temporary duty (TDY) would provide start dates, training, and time to familiarize yourself with the scenarios and work. The initial email only stated I needed to start ASAP.”

Within a week, Restrepo completed all his medical and paperwork requirements for his deployment. He was stationed on a base in Germany in support of the U.S. Army, Europe and Africa (USAREUR-AF). The deployment was part of Operation Atlantic Resolve with NATO. The purpose of the mission is to maintain stability in the region.

“The deployment happened so quickly because I was replacing the civil engineer who had to leave for personal reasons.”

The civil engineer was not the only person to leave mid-way through their deployment. The team also turned over three other staff members, including the GIS person, the Major, and the Sergeant 1st Class. 

“It was a steep learning curve in a short amount of time. Initially there were some communications and expectations issues, but it all worked well in the end.”

“I would have liked to have been there the full six months, I learned and accomplished a lot in three months,” said Restrepo. “Being a subject matter expert, I was able to collaborate with others in real time and apply what I know in the field.”

This deployment was a natural fit for Restrepo, and he thinks anyone from TAM or the Transatlantic Division (TAD) would be an asset for these deployment assignments. “The type of military construction we do at TAM is like the work being done for this mission. This made the transition from the TAM to the FEST team much easier. I was the only person on team who worked with allied partners as part of my normal duties.”

The type of routine work TAM specializes in, allowed Restrepo to tap into subject matter experts for the reports he was compiling. Specifically, a repository of pre-fabricated buildings that can be adapted and built in overseas environments created by Center of Standardization (CoS) for Nonpermanent Facilities. The information Restrepo gained from his colleagues in Winchester, Va. was useful information for the reports he was writing. He also reached out to cost estimates team at TAM who provided him resources and guidance on preliminary cost estimates.

Restrepo is grateful for the skills he gained on this deployment, “My communication, time management and decision-making skills are stronger. This experience expanded my range of adaptability to a new environment and new team members. I also really appreciate being exposed to a different Army mission than what we do at TAM.”

Another reason he enjoyed the deployment was the overall work environment. His team worked in a NATO office building on base.  “I met people from all over the world, Lithuanians, Italians, Ukrainians. The work we were involved with is really a world effort.”

The FEST team is deployed every two years. Restrepo said, “I look forward to future deployments as long as my schedule is open.”