MED taking responsibility for Iraq projects

Middle East District
Published Nov. 17, 2010
The East End Housing project provides self-supporting infrastructure for more than 1,000 personnel.(USACE Photo)

WINCHESTER, Va. -- The Middle East District (MED) will assume responsibility for Corps of Engineers construction programs for Department of State (DoS) and foreign military sales (FMS) customers in Iraq as the Gulf Region District (GRD) draws down during the next year.

The GRD drawdown is in keeping with the responsible drawdown of U.S. Forces in Iraq. The change in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers presence began more than a year ago with the inactivation of the Gulf Region Division.

Transition of certain GRD projects to MED began several months ago.

An Iraqi contractor completes fill activity during early stages of a border road between Syria and Iraq (USACE Photo)

According to Bill Ryals, Iraq Branch chief and MED’s transition team leader, the GRD and MED Deputies for Program Management, Larry Petrosino and Deborah Duncan, determined that DoS and FMS would be the first programs to transition entirely to MED.

“We were already handling other portions of the DoS program from Winchester,” said Ryals. “The project management and contract administration portions were transitioned to MED in May and June. So picking up the construction management was the next and the last piece of the DoS program to come back to us.”

The DoS program formally transitioned to MED Oct. 1.

“We are managing four projects in Iraq for the State Department, totaling $220 million,” said Gary Klein, MED project manager for the DoS program.

“One of the DoS projects includes expansion of facilities at the embassy compound including a helicopter landing zone, parking apron, taxiway, maintenance facilities and another for perimeter security, an air traffic control tower, guard towers, refueling stations and entry control points.

“A third project is an overhead cover project for housing and other offices at the embassy compound,” said Klein. “And the ongoing work on the East End Housing project.”

The next program to transition to MED will be the FMS work.

“Service to customers won’t be interrupted by the draw down and the Corps of Engineers can continue to accept work,” said Ryals.

“Iraq’s FMS projects are at three different phases – awarded, pre-award and planning,” said Manuel Napenas, project manager for FMS work in Iraq. “There are 10 awarded projects totaling $167.4 million.”

Most of the awarded FMS contracts support the border roads program for Iraq’s Director of Border Enforcement. According to Napenas, the border roads will run along a large portion of Iraq’s border with work being completed by local firms, broken down by segment.

GRD awarded the largest contract, valued at $51.8 million, for a portion of road on Iraq’s western border; this project is under construction. More recently, GRD awarded contracts for additional sectors valued at $27.6 million, $16.7 million, $32.8 million, and $19 million.

“These border roads projects and other FMS projects, including a dining facility and simulator building for the Iraqi Air Force, will be transitioned to MED by the middle of November,” said Napenas.

MED has established an area office within its organizational structure to manage the DoS and FMS programs as they transition. Concurrently, GRD expects to continue its drawdown.

“Once fully operational, we anticipate an area office in Baghdad of 20 to 25 Department of Army civilians to carry out the work,” said Roger Thomas, Construction Operations division chief. “We still have issues to resolve, including sponsorship of personnel and coordination with the Office of Security Coordination, or what used to be called the Office of Military Cooperation.”

In addition to the work, four people moved from GRD’s roles to MED’s the last week of September: three construction representatives and one project manager. Once the FMS projects transfer to MED, those individuals will also move to MED’s roles.

Contractors pour the foundation for a Common Access Control Point at Landing Zone Fernandez (USACE Photo)

“When we started this transition, the Transatlantic Division role was to integrate and reconcile the perspectives and interests of division and district leaders,” said Donn Booker, TAD’s chief of business management. “Based on the progress thus far, MED and GRD command groups and functional area leaders have worked together in an outstanding manner, promoting effective team relationships and sensible transition plans.”

GRD anticipates completing 245 legacy projects before transition to MED. Those GRD projects with expected completion dates beyond June 2011 will be transitioned to MED during the February to June 2011 time frame.

“While GRD has projected the number of projects that they will still be working on in June 2011, the exact number and mix of projects is uncertain,” said Col. Ron Light, commander. “MED’s mission is to assume responsibility for any projects GRD does not complete, and finish them well.”