By Ms. Rachel V Goodspeed (USACE)October 14, 2010
WIESBADEN, Germany - At 6 a.m. local time, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District closed the books on fiscal year 2010 - only to pave the way for an anticipated record-breaking fiscal year with $922 million predicted for FY2011.
Altogether, the district executed 1,547 actions totaling more than $527.6 million in obligations in FY2010 displaying its full-spectrum engineer force of high-quality civilians and Soliders who spend each day providing vital engineering services and capabilities across the full spectrum of operations in support of national interests.
But the Europe District's real story lies in the milestones reached and new territory explored over the past year.
A station of choice, a community of excellence
On April 28 after almost a decade, USACE closed the books on the U.S. Army's biggest construction project in Europe since the 1950s - and delivered it on scope, on time and most importantly, on budget.
Efficient Basing Grafenwoehr was not business as usual and succeeding in bringing this massive construction project to fruition required innovative approaches to organization and acquisition. The U.S. Army Europe initiative to consolidate command and control headquarters and six battalion-sized elements consisted of more than 150 projects valued at close to $1 billion with the Europe District managing about $100 million each year since 2001.
"It is an understatement to say it was a lot of work, but somehow our engineers, architects and master planners made it look easy," said Col. John Kem, district commander. "This program has turned Grafenwoehr from the Army's premiere training facility outside the United States to a truly modern, highly-developed, community."
In total, EB-G provided the facilities to change the former 1,000-Soldier garrison into an installation that could support more than 3,500 Soldiers and over 5,000 family members. Projects included the Netzaberg Housing Area with 830 three- and four-bedroom units; a shopping center that boasts a 250-seat food court, PX, commissary and concessions mall; troop billet buildings, company buildings and motor pools; a physical fitness center with a running track and multi-purpose field; upgraded medical facilities; and a modern dining facility.
Supporting world-class health care in Europe
On June 2, more than 230 architects and engineers representing 57 U.S. and German A/E firms attended an Industry Day to receive information on an upcoming project that will eventually replace the aging Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and Ramstein Air Base Clinic.
The hospital replacement project, estimated to cost $1.2 billion, will provide joint venture design opportunities available for U.S. and German firms. Not only is the project large, there are substantial complexities in designing a hospital for the U.S. in Germany, said Rick Flansburg, the district's senior project manager.
"The Europe District, USACE, health facility planning officials and TRICARE Management Activity have been doing a lot of work over the last year just to get to this point on setting the conditions for this project to succeed," he said. "There's been a lot of work between the U.S. and the German federal ministry of construction on how best to design the project and bring it to a successful conclusion."
So far, the district has received about $3 million to conduct community master planning and topographic (soils), utilities, traffic, environmental and archeological studies on the project site.
Building upon successes in Israel
In addition to the district's budget execution of $86.9 million in foreign military sales in Israel this fiscal year, the completion of a vehicle maintenance facility at the Nachshonim Dry Storage Base marked the last of dozens of military construction projects totaling almost $275 million ordered by the Wye River Memorandum, an agreement brokered to ease tension between Israel and the then-Palestine Liberation Organization.
Although the memo was the reason the district set up offices in Israel, project delivery accomplishments in the early 2000s led to an increase in demand for military construction oversight services from the Israelis. In fact business is not only continuing after the Wye River projects, it's growing.
"We expect to see requests for our support on more and perhaps larger projects in the next few years than we've ever seen in the past," said Maj. Landon Raby, former deputy resident engineer for the Israel Area Office. "And we're looking forward to providing our allies with the same high-level products and services that they've come to expect. It's just how we do business and it's the reason we're still here."
The district already has roughly $100 million in foreign military sales projected for FY2011.
Breaking new ground
Since the 1960s, the SHAPE International School and DoDDS American schools in Mons, Belgium, have not changed much. But the facilities are receiving a facelift as the district commenced design on a landmark $105 million project that will bring a combined, contemporary school campus to the SHAPE community with new DoDDS elementary, middle and high schools, and an international school, which currently serves students from almost 40 nations.
And Mons wasn't the only area to see upgrades to their educational facilities. In 2010, the district saw a surge in DoDDS projects across Europe totaling over $187 million in renovations and construction - up from just $15 million the previous fiscal year. The program is anticipated to reach a grand total $1.47 billion through FY2016.
Additionally, the district's Army lodging program achieved its own milestone as construction broke ground on an $8.8 million, 26-room Army lodge at the U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach's Urlas Training Area in Germany, marking the midway point in the largest Army lodging initiative in Europe, ever.
Where no district has gone before
This year, the Europe District's International Engineering Branch crossed new borders as it executed $8.9 million in renovations and construction projects in Europe and Africa - several of which took the district into new territory.
In 1747, fire burnt LimbaA...A3/4i to the ground. Because of limited resources, this small Latvian town of about 8,000 has only been able to afford one fire station with a solitary door through which it deploys its six fire trucks. But this small station - and nine more like it around the country - will receive the renovations they need.
The contracts, funded by EUCOM's Civil Military Operations Program and administered by the Europe District, will go a long way toward reducing response times. So far two contracts have been awarded: the $109,000 renovation at LimbaA...A3/4i, and a $112,000 renovation at Madona. Contracts for Aizkraukle, Gulbene, Keipene, Liepaja, Livani, Valka, Ventspils and Strenci are expected to be awarded by the end of the year and will total about $1.5 million.
Nearby, the district completed a $444,000 community center for children with special-needs in Varvarin, Serbia, in association with the "Right to Smile" association, a Belgrade-based non-governmental organization for parents of children with special needs. The center provides an "inclusive education" model where students with special needs are educated in regular classes as much as possible.
The school is one of roughly 26 projects the district is managing in Europe and Africa, including sites in Albania, Armenia, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Moldova, Serbia, Mauritania and Kenya.
Closing out 2010
Throughout the fiscal year, the district's 490 employee workforce - up 10 percent from the previous fiscal year - worked hard to prove why they are the organization of choice for its strategic partners with construction placement totaling $478 million.
Even more, thanks to a team of dedicated employees focused on closing out the unliquidated obligations, the district was able to wrap up ULOs from $19.2 million on Oct. 1, 2009, to zero by Sept. 25, 2010. While ULOs are an obstacle every USACE district faces, the Europe District faces some unique challenges with host nation agreements on design and construction.
With FY2010 wrapped up, district employees are already tackling the estimated $922 million FY2011 workload, including a Consolidated Intelligence Center and new housing community in Wiesbaden, an Air Force Contingency Response Group Compound at Ramstein Air Base, new housing communities in Ansbach and Baumholder, and various humanitarian assistance and civil military projects across EUCOM and AFRICOM's areas of responsibility. All in an effort to carry out the Army Corps of Engineers vision of a highly-disciplined engineering force working with its partners to deliver innovative and sustainable solutions to the nation's engineering challenges.