KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan-- Building on the significant public infrastructure progress that was achieved in fiscal year 2011, the Afghanistan Engineer District-South closed fiscal year 2012 having awarded 102 contracts and achieved almost 96 percent of its construction placement goal for the year; an 8.5 percent increase compared to last year.

Nearly $715 million has been paid by the district for work contractors have completed on projects aimed at helping Afghans develop the stability and security of their nation. Projects ran the gamut from design and construction of university buildings, a hospital, and new facilities for Afghan National Security Forces, to repairs on roads and bridges that promote freedom of movement.

"I could not be more proud of our team," said Ngozi Ihediwa, deputy chief of contracting. "Everyone displayed professionalism, unity, commitment to the best business practices and adherence to policies regarding ethics, despite the challenges that come up when operating in a contingency environment."

To promote Afghan economic development, district personnel supported the development of Afghan contractors' skills through mentoring activities and by teaching them about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' contracting and business processes. District staff worked hard to identify and qualify local companies as technically, financially and professionally capable.

Once those 102 contracts were awarded, and cognizant the capacity development mission is like a relay race, the district's Engineering and Construction Division accepted the baton from Contracting Branch and got to work on designing and overseeing project construction.

Teams of American and Afghan subject matter experts with engineering, construction, and project management expertise visited project sites to monitor and provide oversight throughout the lifecycle of projects.

Each was put to the test in 2012 and each met those challenges with courage and commitment, explained Clif Warren, P.E., Engineering and Construction Division Chief.

"There are many complex issues that can affect the success of projects here in our area of operations," said Warren.

Among the issues are security and safety risks, site accessibility, construction quality control and employee turnover inherent in combat zones and contingency environments.

"It has been the right mix of expertise, planning, coordination and commitment by all parties involved, with the common goal of achieving sustainable outcomes with the Afghan people that has resulted in excellence this year," he said.