As Month of the Military Child wraps up on April 30, and it is a time to honor the sacrifices made by military families worldwide, with an emphasis on the experience of the dependent children of military members, USACE Afghanistan District is affording a better opportunity for the Women and Children of the Afghan National Army.

A ribbon cutting ceremony and turnover of a $5.3M construction project by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University (MFNDU) under the auspices of the Women's Participation Program (WPP) provides one of the biggest projects completed.

The population of Afghan women participating in the Afghan National Army continues to grow and USACE continues to provide more facilities for the women in these military training centers to enable stability in their everyday lives and remove obstacles that have prevented their success.

Having playgrounds for the children, which is taken into consideration for all military training centers in new construction, along with modern daycare centers, allow the men and women of ANA a place for their children so they may accomplish their daily mission, knowing their children and families are safe and well cared for.

The Afghan National Army Chief of Staff and Ministry of Defense, along with the Deputy Minister of Defense and the MFNDU base commander expressed their gratitude to USACE and the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) for the outstanding contributions of the important projects for the Afghan National Army special women population and performance of the high quality work and construction of such projects for the women and families of the MFNDU.

"This project is one of many USACE is working on for the Women's Participation Program," said John Raso, Project Manager, "and also one of many we have already turned over to the Afghanistan National Army (ANA)."

Included in the turnover was the construction of three buildings at one of the sites, and another two buildings at two other sites. Site 1 includes what MFNDU Commanding Officer describes as a high quality and modern Conference Center, Gymnasium, and Daycare Center. And Site 2 includes two other gymnasiums at different locations within the University grounds.

Following the official turnover on April 18, MFNDU Commanding Officer held a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 22 inviting British advisors, Ministry of Defense and MFNDU senior leaders, along with members of the ANA, the contractor team, Local National Quality Assurance members, and the media to show to take them on a tour of all the buildings with state of the art equipment, as they wanted the Afghanistan population and the world to see the great facilities they were happy to receive.
That state of the art gymnasium equipment included commercial quality treadmills, elliptical, upright bicycles, and multi-stations for resistance training at each of the facilities. Additional equipment included basketballs, volleyballs, dumbbells, and stability balls.

At the Daycare Center the equipment and furniture required now provides areas for the children to learn, play, and sleep plus an outdoor playground area with recycled rubber tiles, children's picnic tables and other play stations for children of all ages. They will be able to store their belongings in the lockers and shelves and children will have cribs and heavy duty cots to sleep on.

The Women's Participation Program Manager Nicole Schmitt and Project Manager John Raso worked with the construction team managed by the Kabul Project Delivery Platform team of Dean Sulzer, Project Engineer, Keith Maxwell, Resident Engineer, whom along with the contractor Biltek
Construction Company ensured the contract requirements were completed at the standard and with the quality USACE is known for in Delivering the Program.

The base contract for this project was awarded in 2016 and work progressed at a steady rate. When additional funds became available CSTC-A and USACE were able to award additional options which included the additional gymnasiums, and allowed for lightning protection, perimeter walls, sidewalks utilities and even the additional options of providing manpower, material, and equipment and furniture for all of the buildings.

And in a contingency environment the flexibilities of the contractor and teams involved are of utmost importance. Whereas the contractor met the scheduled completion date for the construction of the facilities, the high quality gymnasium equipment was delayed in passing through customs, causing a slight delay in the Beneficial Occupancy Date.

In the end, the team effort involved in this project came together and a very useful and outstanding facility was turned over just in time to allow our Afghan National Army military to celebrate a very happy Month of the Military Child.

(Special thanks to Project Manager John Raso for his contributions to this story, and to our Local National Public Affairs Specialist for the Photos)