BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN -- A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Transatlantic Afghanistan District (TAA) employee has been named the top engineer for the entire USACE Transatlantic Division (TAD). Thomas "Clark" Carroll, a project engineer at the Qargha Project Office within TAA's Kabul Area Office, has been chosen as the recipient of TAD's Hard Hat of the Year for his work in Afghanistan.
"I was extremely and very surprised and humbled," Carroll said upon learning of the honor. "I'm still shocked. Wow! I don't think I have done anything extraordinary to deserve this award."
A 33-year veteran of the Corps, this is Carroll's first deployment to Afghanistan. Stateside, he works out of the Lafayette Project Office of the New Orleans District as a project engineer. Carroll has been with USACE-TAA since December 2013.
"I came to Afghanistan for a nine-month deployment. After deciding that I really enjoyed the work and challenges associated with it, I have extended a few times," he said.
Carroll is responsible for overseeing the construction at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University, a $227-million project on the outskirts of Kabul. Once completed, the 105-acre facility will host a majority of the training schools for the Afghan National Army (ANA), to include the already up and running National Military Academy of Afghanistan (NMAA), modeled after the U.S. Military Academy (West Point), and the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA), modeled after the British Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
"Clark has been the driving force in the successful progress USACE-TAA has made at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University," said Col. Paul Owen, commander, USACE-TAA. "His work on the $227 million, multi-phased project has already started to bring huge benefits for the professionalism of the Afghanistan National Army."
Charged with overseeing more than 800 Afghan construction workers, Owen cited Carroll's ability to foster a close, professional, working relationship with his Afghan and coalition partners as an invaluable asset.
"Clark put together a team, assigned roles, established mentoring, took care of the well-being, and provided overall leadership for the Qargha Project Office. He effectively coordinated with the British Army mentor teams on a phased turnover of facilities while addressing specific customer needs and requests in a combat environment," Owen said.
That assessment of Carroll's ability to effectively reach out across multi-national lines was echoed by the former Officer in Charge of the Kabul Area Office, and current TAA deputy commander.
"He has a great working relationship with the Afghans who work on the project and with the Afghan National Army folks who work out there," Lt. Col Joseph Boscia said. "He's the all around package. He knows his engineering piece, he's good at working with people, he organizes well and he's able to work through and solve problems with everyone else.
"We're building these facilities for the Afghans; it's for their benefit to make them a better Army and a better country. Without that ability to communicate with them things are just not going to happen and you have the potential for miscommunications," Boscia added.
Despite the recognition and praise Carroll doesn't deem himself as doing anything out of the ordinary.
"I just try to do my best and keep the information flowing and the job moving forward," he said. "But I'm no different than any of my co-workers here in the Stan. We all give 110 percent plus more."
Carroll jokingly added, "I've just been here longer than anyone else."
(Editor's note: Click on attached video link to hear more from Carroll and to see of the Marshal Fahim National Defense University project)