By Cheryl A. Moore, Afghanistan DistrictFebruary 16, 2019
In delivering our USACE program in Afghanistan, the team effort is the driving force behind the mission. Three members of our nucleus, power, contracting, and construction have redeployed following their part in shaping this ever-evolving organization.
More volunteers to fill these positions are either already in theater and running at full speed, or on their way to keep the momentum going.
Phillip Snodgrass performed outstanding service as a Contracting Officer's Technical Representative (COTR). In his capacity at the Bagram Airfield Power Plant, his technical acumen and leadership were critical to the success of the transition of the U. S. Forces- Afghanistan Prime Power mission from the 249th Engineer Battalion to the Department of the Army Civilian Technicians. For his outstanding service as a COTR in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel from August 2018, Snodgrass received the Commander's Award for Civilian Service, along with the Global War on Terrorism and NATO medals.
"I leave here knowing that Transatlantic Afghanistan District will make a difference and be the relevant organization to the needs of our customers and stakeholders," said Deputy Chief of Contracting Bruce Okumura.
As he bid farewell to the team at Bagram, he said it's been a very long and short 13 months. It was during his time in theater that Okumura's service and leadership made a significant impact on the security and stability of Afghanistan.
He oversaw the execution of more than 350 contract actions valued at more than $225M in support of U. S. Service members, Coalition Forces, Civilians, and Afghan Forces across 18 provinces covering 253,000 square miles.
Okumura developed several strategic initiatives designed to promote contracting and economic development opportunities for the Afghan populace. An example was his input with the Afghan Builders Association in Kabul where he led the contracting Line of Effort with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, International donors and the people of Afghanistan. This led to an increase in the number of Afghan vendors registered in the Joint Contingency Contracting System registry, enabling contracting officers to conduct targeted acquisitions directed at further developing the business base at the local community level.
He engaged in early coordination with the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID) leadership at the U. S. Embassy to lay down the groundwork for a $270M USAID power project aimed to improve Afghanistan's electric infrastructure with the construction of new substations and transmission lines in Ghazni, Zabul, Kandahar and Helmand provinces.
His contracting efforts were crucial to enable the Train, Advise, and Assist Commands to build the Afghan National Security Forces to execute security and stability operations for the citizens of Afghanistan.
He leaves with not only with The Superior Civilian Service Award, Global War on Terrorism and NATO medals, but with friendships and teamwork that will last beyond his months in country.
Saying goodbye to Harry Kye was like bidding farewell to a man with many hats. This Chief of the Construction Division performed multiple duties during his year-long tour due to extreme hiring challenges.
Chief of Contract Administration Branch, been there done that, Resident Engineer, been there done that, and Scheduler, all while remaining focused on the security and stability of Afghanistan.
Kye was responsible for the delivery of the Districts more than $1B program that built supporting infrastructure for the Afghanistan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) and advanced Vision 2020, a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) national electrical power grid initiative.
It was during his time in theater that he delivered 30 projects valued at more than $262M for all stakeholders in Afghanistan including USFOR-A and Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A). These projects increased the overall capabilities of the country to secure itself and execute successful parliamentary elections in the fall of 2018.
He was instrumental in developing current and future sustainable capacity for Afghanistan's population with his establishment and leadership of the Local National Quality Assurance program.
Through monthly training programs which targeted skilled local Afghan engineers, Kye emphasized essential components of the construction management process and trained our teammates on critical project management information systems.
On top of this he established the Afghan Quality Assurance Team (AQAT) to reinforce the quality assurance function, as another set of "eyes and ears" at all construction sites. These teams have and will provide third party oversight, documentation of their findings, and recommendations of corrective actions on construction projects by USACE.
Most notably for Kye is his personal insistence on sound monitoring and evaluation systems that permit USACE to hold contractors and implementing partners accountable, supervise their work, measure progress, and design future programs.
Kye's devotion to his duties in country earned him the Superior Civilian Service Award, Global War on Terrorism and NATO medals, and much respect from his peers and teammates from the Afghanistan District.
The District thanks each of these Volunteers for their engagement in the mission and for their sacrifices during this self-less service.