By Ms. Rachel V Goodspeed (USACE)March 4, 2010
STUTTGART, Germany - It's a different continent with different challenges, but Robert Pace is not a fish out of water.
From rivers, wetlands and forests on the eastern coast of the United States to lowlands, deserts and oases of Africa, he is ready for the new challenges awaiting him.
Pace, a strategic water resources planner from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers North Atlantic Division, is assigned to support the U.S. African Command to help develop the command's water security program - a core element to their overall environmental security program, he said.
"The Corps' work in support of AFRICOM is integral in helping our African partners develop economic stability and security," Pace said. "It has become apparent that the whole concept of water and water security is an important component of a stable Africa in the future."
Together alongside Kornell Rancy, the Europe District AFRICOM program manager, and Hugh Denny, HQ USACE's liaison officer to AFRICOM, the Corps of Engineers is ensuring the command has the resources it needs.
"We have the ability to put our heads together to make sure we are best positioned to support AFRICOM in all ways possible," Pace said. "By working together, and in close collaboration with other AFRICOM staff, we can contribute more than by working singularly."
Art Kolodziejski, who runs the Environmental Security Branch within the Engineering Division of AFRICOM's Operations and Logistics directorate, welcomes Pace as a staff addition during 2010.
"There are many environmental and water-related challenges in AFRICOM," he said. "I look to Robert to support many of the ongoing and potential future efforts that will require his expertise and experience."
Pace is responsible for helping the relatively new command integrate water resource solutions to support the defense, diplomacy and development approaches that AFRICOM is taking on throughout the continent.
"Africa's water issues are so diverse and widespread, we want to make sure that the solutions developed are focused on the right issues and address the inter-related nature of water issues," he said. "They must also enable African countries sustain themselves and contribute to 'capacity-building.' We want to make sure we're investing in the right things."
Pace hails from the Baltimore District where he was chief of the Planning Division for civil works projects for flood risk reduction, water supply, navigation and ecosystem restoration. In particular, Pace managed investigations of water projects for the Chesapeake Bay, and the Potomac and Susquehanna Rivers - three high-visibility bodies of water among agencies in the mid-Atlantic area.
"My experience working with the Bay Program consisted of leveraging different programs and agencies - private, state and federal - to solve a common problem," he said. "In AFRICOM, you have various agencies that have interests in Africa who work together towards a common goal."
AFRICOM is a multi-agency command and Pace said he is here to bring another component to the table.
"All the agencies supporting AFRICOM bring something to the table - the Corps brings planning, design and construction, as well as reach-back capability in terms of water resources planning and management."
Additionally, Pace worked for USACE for 13 years before moving into the private sector for 10 years, during which his work moved onto an international level.
"Each job experience builds upon the next. This is a good time for me to take all of my experiences, putting it all back together and applying it on an international scope," he said. "It's being able to take that experience and use it constructively to solve a larger problem."