U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Building Strong, Serving the Nation and the Armed Forces, 2020-2021

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USACE Dam Safety Program


The mission of USACE’s Dam Safety (DS) Program is to assure that USACE dams maintain structural integrity and functional viability to meet the congressionally authorized purposes. Fundamental to the DS Program is that these facilities do not present unacceptable risks to life, property, or the environment. USACE owns, operates, manages, and regulates 740 flood damage reduction and navigation structures in a portfolio that consists of 557 dam projects. DS operates within the context of portfolio management, centrally leading non-routine activities while maintaining a decentralized execution approach and incorporating risk-informed decision-making into all key processes. Visit the website here: www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Dam-Safety-Program/.

USACE Levee Safety Program


USACE has approximately 14,150 miles of levees in its portfolio and works closely with sponsors and others to ensure that these systems reduce the impact of flooding on people, property, businesses, critical infrastructure, and the environment. USACE considers life safety as a priority. The Levee Safety Program uses a risk framework that captures all activities within three overarching categories: risk assessment, risk management, and risk communication. Risk assessments support effective levee risk management decisions that must be well informed by a complete picture of risk, because the nation’s resources are limited, the infrastructure is aging, and there is rapid population growth and an increasingly dynamic physical environment. Communicating risk is an important element in saving lives. Visit the website here: www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Levee-Safety-Program/.

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CONTENTS CENTERS AND COMMANDS U.S. ARMY ENGINEER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER....... 128 U.S. ARMY ENGINEERING AND SUPPORT CENTER, HUNTSVILLE....... 136 U.S. ARMY GEOSPATIAL CENTER ............................................................. 142 U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS INSTITUTE FOR WATER RESOURCES.......................................................................... 144 U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS LOGISTICS....................................... 146 U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS MARINE DESIGN CENTER ............ 148 U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS FINANCE CENTER.......................... 149 249th ENGINEER BATTALION (PRIME POWER) ..................................... 150 412th THEATER ENGINEER COMMAND................................................... 152 416th THEATER ENGINEER COMMAND.................................................. 154


U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS BUILDING STRONG® Serving the Nation and the Armed Forces Published by Faircount Media Group 450 Carillon Parkway, Suite 105 St. Petersburg, FL 33716 Tel: 813.639.1900 www.defensemedianetwork.com www.faircount.com

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COVER: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) works in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – and in coordination with other federal, state, local, and tribal partners – to synchronize the interagency response for the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, USACE has received 64 FEMA mission assignments, completed 1,155 site assessments for potential alternate care facilities (ACFs), and awarded 38 contracts for ACFs across 17 states, one tribal nation, one U.S. territory, and the District of Columbia. Seen here is Hall C of McCormick Place in Chicago near completion on April 1, 2020. USACE’s Chicago District constructed capacity for 500 COVID-19 patients in Hall C and a total of 3,000 throughout the convention center. The Chicago District, at the request of FEMA, and the state of Illinois mobilized to plan and construct the ACF. U.S. Army photo by Patrick Bray

©Copyright Faircount LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction of editorial content in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Faircount LLC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers do not assume responsibility for the advertisements, nor any representation made therein, nor the quality or deliverability of the products themselves. Reproduction of articles and photographs, in whole or in part, contained herein is prohibited without expressed written consent of the publisher, with the exception of reprinting for news media use. Printed in the United States of America. Permission to use various images and text in this publication was obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or U.S. Department of Defense and its agencies, and in no way is used to imply an endorsement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers nor any U.S. Department of Defense entity for any claims or representations therein. None of the advertising contained herein implies U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or U.S. Department of Defense endorsement of any private entity or enterprise. This is not a publication of the U.S. Department of Defense or U.S. government.



he U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) North Atlantic Division (NAD) serves as the Department of Defense’s engineering, design, and construction agent for 50 U.S. Army and 13 U.S. Air Force installations east of the Appalachian Mountains in the northeast United States and Europe. NAD supports U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command, with projects in 46 countries across Europe, Israel, and Africa.

NAD maintains five major harbors – Boston, New York-New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Norfolk – and more than 200 smaller ports in the Northeast. The division maintains and operates four canals that make up parts of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The Chesapeake and Delaware canals across the top of the Delmarva Peninsula shorten the distance via water route between Baltimore and Philadelphia by 300 miles.

The NAD area of operations includes: • 23% of U.S. population (75 million people)

• 55 dams and three hurricane barriers that are USACE-

• 101,000 acres of land managed and maintained

operated and -maintained, along with 290 miles of USACE-

• 24,000 acres of water and 470 miles of shoreline and cultural

inspected levees that provide valuable flood-storage

resources conserved and protected

capacity as well as inland and coastal storm damage

• 25.6% of U.S. coastal tonnage


• 3,300 employees

• 8 high-level bridges

• 2,685 miles of navigable channels

• 10 million visitors to recreation sites, supporting approximately

• 170 vessels supporting the nation’s navigation mission, including the sea-going hopper dredge McFarland

spending within 30 miles of USACE lakes

NORTH ATLANTIC DIVISION 302 General Lee Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11252 (347) 370-4550 cenad-pao@usace.army.mil www.nad.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/northatlanticdivision twitter.com/ArmyCorpsNAD www.youtube.com/user/usacenorthatlantic www.flickr.com/photos/usacenad

NEW ENGLAND DISTRICT 696 Virginia Rd. Concord, MA 01742 (978) 318-8238 cenae-pa@usace.army.mil www.nae.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/CorpsNewEngland twitter.com/CorpsNewEngland www.instagram.com/usacenewengland/ www.flickr.com/photos/corpsnewengland/

BALTIMORE DISTRICT 2 Hopkins Plaza Baltimore, MD 21201 (410) 962-2809 cenab-cc@usace.army.mil www.nab.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/USACEBaltimore twitter.com/USACEBaltimore www.youtube.com/c/USACEBaltimore www.flickr.com/photos/corps_of_engineers_baltimore

NEW YORK DISTRICT 26 Federal Plaza Room 17-302 New York, NY 10278 (917) 790-8007 cenan-pa@usace.army.mil www.nan.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/USACE.NewYorkDistrict/ twitter.com/USACE_NY www.youtube.com/user/USACENewYorkDistrict www.flickr.com/photos/newyorkdistrict-usace

EUROPE DISTRICT CMR 410, Box 1 APO AE 09049 +49 (0) 611-9744-2703 dll-cenau-pa@usace.army.mil www.nau.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/europedistrict twitter.com/europedistrict www.youtube.com/user/usaceEuropeDistrict


3,560 jobs and generating more than $340 million in visitor

NORFOLK DISTRICT 803 Front St. Norfolk, VA 23510 (757) 201-7606 dll-cenao-pa@usace.army.mil www.nao.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/NAOonFB twitter.com/norfolkdistrict www.flickr.com/photos/armyengineersnorfolk PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT The Wanamaker Building 100 Penn Square East Philadelphia, PA 19107-3390 (215) 656-6515 PDPA-NAP@usace.army.mil www.nap.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/USACEPhilly www.youtube.com/user/USACEPhillyDistrict www.flickr.com/photos/philadelphiausace




Patient care units under construction inside the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City, March 27, 2020. The Javits Center site was selected due, in part, to its large expanse of open space.

BY JENNIFER GUNN, Nor th Atlantic Division


his is an unbelievably complicated problem.” That was the hard truth shared by then-U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Chief of Engineers and Commander Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite during a March 20 press briefing at the Pentagon. “There’s no way we’re going to be able to do this with a complicated solution. We need something super simple,” he said. The complicated problem was COVID-19 – a pandemic originating from China that, in early 2020, began spreading across all 50 states. In some large population centers like New York City, which had been declared the “epicenter of this crisis” by Mayor Bill de Blasio, the numbers of COVID cases were increasing at a near-doubling daily rate. In fact, at the rate cases were rising, the virus would outpace most states’ capacity to provide health care. Simply put, people

would get sick, and there wouldn’t be enough hospital beds to go around. The super simple solution to this complicated problem? Develop and implement a standard design that would retrofit existing facilities and help states increase their capacity to treat those who would be affected by the disease, according to Semonite. “A lot of governors said, ‘We’ve got to be able to build hospitals in a couple weeks,’” Semonite told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow during a March 26 studio interview. “You can’t build a hospital in a couple weeks.” However, USACE’s combination of engineer and construction experts could leverage existing buildings – arenas, hotels, dorms – and modify them to create alternate care facilities to answer the nation’s bed-space shortage. 9



The U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort arrived in New York City March 30 in support of COVID-19 response efforts. The USACE vessel Gelberman came alongside the ship’s starboard side as it made its way along the New York Harbor to its newly dredged dock in Manhattan.

As the nation’s lead public works and engineering experts under the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, USACE engineers at the North Atlantic Division (NAD) set to work performing inspections on state-identified sites across its 13-state region and the District of Columbia. All together, they completed more than 240 assessments, with over 80 occurring in the Commonwealth of Virginia. That amount, coupled with the geographical distance from the Norfolk District Headquarters to the northern reaches of the state, had Norfolk contacting its neighboring district – the Transatlantic Middle East (TAM) District, headquartered in Winchester, Virginia – for a helping hand. “Our primary mission is to support the U.S. Central Command in the Middle East,” said Col. Philip Secrist, TAM commander. “When Norfolk District requested assistance, we had team members chomping at the bit to serve.” NAD’s first actual site conversion – and perhaps one of its most well known – was New York City’s Jacob Javits Convention Center. There, USACE adapted 160,000 square feet on multiple floors to provide 1,000 bed spaces for a field medical station initially intended to treat non-COVID patients and help ease the burden on hospitals treating those infected with the virus. The U.S. Navy also pitched in to lighten the load by sending one of Military Sealift Command’s two hospital ships, the USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), from its homeport of Norfolk, Virginia. Both the Comfort and the Javits would later be modified to receive COVID patients at the request of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Because of the tight timelines to get “bed spaces on the ground,” workers drove projects around the clock. 10

“Teamwork is essential to accomplishing any mission and that’s certainly been the case with respect to the ongoing COVID-19 response,” said Philadelphia District Commander Lt. Col. David Park. His team of professionals were responsible for multiple construction efforts in New Jersey. “It’s been a 24/7 effort to construct the alternate care facilities in New Jersey, and many have sacrificed to carry out this vital mission,” Park said. With three additional sites constructed throughout New York City, several sites built in New Jersey, and a handful of others under construction by the states, NAD helped turn out a dozen care sites in the region. Its final build, the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., was managed by its Baltimore District. “Our goal … [was] to get this site operational as quickly as possible while meeting medical standards, so equipment and beds can be placed and health care providers can take over, should the need arise,” said Col. John Litz, Baltimore District commander. While Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser hoped never to have to use the site, “we must have the capacity to support a potential increase in COVID-19 patients,” she said. Because of the tireless efforts of the North Atlantic Division team, its partners, and contractors, more than 7,000 bed spaces were provided to states in a mix of COVID and non-COVID configurations. And though the number of USACE spaces provided would barely scratch the surface of the more than 17 million Americans who have been confirmed with the virus since March 2020, as of this writing, each space means everything to those treated inside it. “We want to set the condition that hospital bed space is not a factor [in our ability to overcome the disease],” Semonite said. Ann Marie Harvie, Sarah Lazo, Patrick Bloodgood, Steve Rochette, Chris Augsburger, Joe Macri, and the New York District Public Affairs Office contributed to this article. n





n March 15, 2019, crews at a shipbreaking facility at the Port of Brownsville in Texas made the final cut and pulled the last piece of sectioned steel from the Sturgis ashore for recycling. This marked the completion of a five-year project

Personnel from Baltimore and Galveston districts, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, discuss Sturgis’ decommissioning progress aboard the vessel during a site visit in Galveston, Texas, Dec. 8, 2015. Baltimore District, working closely with Galveston District, is decommissioning and dismantling the Sturgis, a former World War II cargo ship that was converted into the first floating nuclear power plant in the 1960s.

to decommission and dismantle the long-retired U.S. Army floating nuclear power plant. The Sturgis vessel was one of a kind: a converted World War II cargo ship that housed the deactivated MH-1A nuclear reactor, it was converted to a floating nuclear power plant in the 1960s and was shutdown in 1976 after several years of service generating electricity for military and civilian use in the Panama Canal. From 1978 forward, the Sturgis was stored safely in Virginia’s James River Reserve Fleet until its decommissioning. Though this was the end for the Sturgis, the project would be the first of three deactivated nuclear reactors to be decommissioned through the Army’s Deactivated Nuclear Power Plant Program (DNPPP). The other two, the SM-1 at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and the SM-1A at Fort Greely, Alaska, are in the planning stages for their decommissionings. When the U.S. Army needed to decommission the Sturgis’ obsolete nuclear reactor as part of the DNPPP, it called on the expertise of the original designers and builders: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The complex effort of decommissioning involves years of planning and on-site work requiring oversight by a highly specialized team from Baltimore District’s Environmental and Munitions Design Center (EMDC). The EMDC team includes program and project managers, 11

engineers, legal and regulatory specialists, resource managers, contract specialists, industrial hygienists, and safety specialists, as well as members from the Radiological Health Physics Regional Center of Expertise (RCX). “Having the expertise of RCX professionals was integral to the success of the Sturgis project,” said Brenda Barber, Baltimore District program manager. “From the planning stages through the contract award and the day-to-day work of safely dismantling and disposing of the various aspects of this floating nuclear reactor,” said Barber, “the expertise of the RCX was crucial to the success of this complex project, and continues to play a role as we plan for the reactors at Fort Belvoir and Fort Greely.” The RCX’s decommissioning support is not limited geographically. The Baltimore District team, selected to execute the program because of its unique radiological expertise through the RCX team, is supporting SM-1 efforts at Fort Belvoir as well as SM-1A efforts at Fort Greely. The radiological decommissioning of the Sturgis was completed in Galveston, Texas, after the barge was towed from storage in Virginia, and its final shipbreaking was completed in Brownsville. “The [Baltimore] District’s highly trained and experienced team of health physicists provides radiation safety and technical support to the Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies across the United States and overseas for projects involving all aspects of radiological work,” said Hans Honerlah, one of the RCX’s trained radiological health physicists. “This can include providing coordination, oversight, and consultation for investigation, decommissioning, and radiation safety work.” The frequency of radiological projects within EMDC has afforded RCX team members the opportunity to become skilled experts who are efficient and cost-effective in addressing specific and complex challenges typically encountered on such projects. The Baltimore District can staff a complete project delivery team that understands these unique challenges and that can, when necessary or appropriate, seamlessly merge with local teams to provide even more robust capability and expertise. The end result is a team qualified and ready to identify project risks and develop strategies to manage those risks. In the late 1990s, USACE established an enterprisewide Radiation Safety Support Team (RSST) to provide radiological support to all USACE commands. Baltimore District was a charter member to the RSST, and the RCX is often called upon to support requests from the RSST or by partners throughout the Army and other agencies for work involving sites that require radiological proficiency. Planning the safe remediation of these sites with deactivated nuclear reactors is no simple task, nor a common one, which is why Baltimore District’s RCX plays a large role in supporting these efforts. “The RCX supports projects like these, and others, in many ways,” Honerlah said. “The RCX assists with the development and implementation of decommissioning plans, cost estimates, and several other aspects of the planning and execution of remedial work. The RCX team considers all legal and regulatory standards associated with occupational exposure to radioactive materials, site clean-up levels, and appropriate transportation and disposal requirements for the materials with residual radioactive materials.” 12



Crews at a shipbreaking facility in Brownsville, Texas, pull the last piece of sectioned steel for recycling from the Sturgis ashore in March 2019, marking the completion of a five-year project to decommission and dismantle the U.S. Army’s long-retired floating nuclear plant, MH-1A. Baltimore District led the effort because of its unique radiological expertise through its Radiological Health Physics Regional Center of Expertise.

The RCX also provides its capabilities and expertise to other USACE districts. Support includes anything from remediation efforts at Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) sites, with contamination stemming from the nation’s early nuclear research to auditing radioactive materials licenses for USACE’s dredges and gauges, plus they provide support to a variety of other federal agencies. While the Baltimore District team has been providing radiological expertise support for many years, it was officially recognized as an RCX in 2011. As a formal RCX, the district supports external partners including the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Park Service, and other Army commands as well as other branches of the military. The RCX is currently supporting ongoing depleted uranium demilitarization operations for U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command, which involves coordination of federal and state regulators to safely transport and dispose of demilitarized depleted-uranium rounds at a licensed low-level radioactive waste facility. “The RCX has in-house staff and equipment to self-perform smaller tasks for USACE as well as other customers,” Honerlah said. “As the issues and projects become larger, the staff can support the development and award of contracts for these specialized tasks related to radiological work. Post-award, the RCX can support the supervision, quality assurance, and technical oversight of these contracts throughout the period of performance.” With the safe completion of the radiological decommissioning and dismantling of the Sturgis behind them, the RCX is largely focused on upcoming decommissioning work for the SM-1 and SM-1A, all while standing ready for whatever additional radiological challenges may come their way. The team plans to start the decommissioning and dismantlement of SM-1 in spring 2021. n






he U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC), and the U.S. Embassy in Georgia cut the ribbon on a 2,050-square-meter modernized wounded warrior rehabilitation center for the Georgian armed services on Jan. 27, 2020. Valued at $4.5 million, the Maro Makashvili Wounded Warrior Rehabilitation Center in Tserovani, Georgia, provides Georgian soldiers with critical physical and occupational therapy, funded through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program and the Georgian government. Amenities include an indoor adaptive sports gym, indoor basketball and volleyball courts, aqua therapy room with pool, a physical therapy room with a ceiling-mounted assistance track, various additional therapy rooms, and staff and administrative rooms. The need for this facility stemmed, in part, from nearly two decades of support the Georgian armed forces has provided the United States, according to Elizabeth Rood, chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Georgia at the time of the ceremony. “The United States continues to fight shoulder to shoulder with our Georgian partners,” Rood said. “This [facility] is an impressive testament to Georgia’s commitment to advance peace and security at home and abroad.” During the last eight years, the Republic of Georgia has sent more than 13,000 troops to Afghanistan, 7,800 soldiers to Iraq, and provided additional support to missions in Mali and the Central African Republic.

Pictured left to right, Command Surgeon, U.S. Army Europe, Brig. Gen. Ronald Stevens; then-North Atlantic Division Commander Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Milhorn; Speaker of the Parliament Archil Talakvadze; Georgian Minister of Defense Irakli Gharibashvili; Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia; and then-Acting U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Rood cut the ribbon on the Maro Makashvili Wounded Warrior and Rehabilitation Center, Jan. 27, 2020.

“Strategic cooperation between the United States and Georgia has never been as strong as it is today,” said Georgia Minister of Defense Irakli Gharibashvili. USACE oversaw the design and construction of the center through its Caucasus Field Office, a team located in Georgia that includes three of its own citizens, along with local Georgian contractor LCONS, LLC. “Delivering this facility today serves as a landmark project in the continued partnership between the Georgian government and the United States of America,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Milhorn, USACE North Atlantic Division commander at the time of the ceremony. “We stand solidly with our Georgian partners,” Milhorn said, “and are incredibly honored for the opportunity to provide expert engineering and construction solutions here and throughout the region.” The rehabilitation center represents the latest in a series of projects the U.S. government is constructing for the region. In mid-January, USACE completed an $800,000 school renovation for approximately 200 students of the Kveshi School, in Georgia, and also recently completed two fire and search and rescue stations in Armenia, with another two on the horizon. n 13




BY TIMOTHY J. DUGAN, New England District


mid the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) reached a milestone in June 2020 of removing 10 million cubic yards of dredged material from the largest seaport in New England. Approximately 1 million cubic yards of ordinary and hard dredged material remain as part of Phase II of the three-phased Boston Harbor Navigation Improvement Project. Another 500,000 cubic yards of hard rock will be removed as part of the third and final project phase, a subsequent contract, which was advertised in October 2020, and the New England District started reviewing the bids in November. As a contractor performing work for the Department of Defense, the joint venture (JV) of Cashman Dredging and the Dutra Group (CDJV) performed this essential work on the harbor, the principal distributing point for regional commerce, under the Massachusetts’ governor’s


Clamshell dredges remove dredged material during maintenance work in Boston Harbor in Boston, Massachusetts.

stay-at-home advisory. The work was able to continue without delay despite the impacts the pandemic has had on the country. More than 87% of Boston Harbor commerce activity is the receiving and shipping of petroleum products. Principal commercial traffic consists of the importing of distillate petroleum products, residual fuel oil, sugar, limestone, and lumber; the receiving and shipping of other petroleum products; and the exporting of iron and steel scrap – and this commerce needed to continue despite the coronavirus. CDJV continues to work with enhanced safety precautions. “The contractor has performed exceptionally well in complying with contagious disease guidelines to include social isolation and social


distancing, ensuring CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines are being followed by the crews,” said Robert Casoli Jr., USACE senior construction representative for the project. Casoli performed his quality-assurance responsibilities onshore from the construction office as a way to monitor the contractor’s progress and adhere to safety requirements while maintaining social distance. To compensate for safety precautions like limiting personnel aboard crew vessels and dredges, Casoli had complete access to a contractor-owned computer located at the construction land office that mirrored the computer screen used by personnel on the dredge Dale Pyatt that allowed him to review real-time progress of the dredge. He also viewed the dredge position from shore as often as possible. In addition to weekly teleconference meetings with the entire USACE and JV team, the JV’s project manager, Aaron Barton, and quality control manager, Paul Poirier, meet with Casoli daily to provide and review the daily progress of the areas and cuts where dredging is in progress, the crew sizes, and special safety precautions being taken on board. “Personal protective equipment, to include masks and gloves, is available for each employee working,” Casoli said. “A full-time,

24/7 site safety health officer is on board the dredge. I commend Cashman/Dutra JV for their strict protection of the workers of this project.” The way USACE is performing daily inspection may have changed due to the coronavirus, but the quality and production have not been affected thus far. The project continues to move forward ahead of schedule and is a great success story for the New England District. Dredging is expected to be complete in October 2020. Improvement and deepening of Boston Harbor was authorized for construction by the 2014 Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). The WRRDA referenced a chief of engineers report, signed Sept. 30, 2013, which was transmitted to Congress on Feb. 26, 2014. For more information on the Boston Harbor federal navigation project (FNP), visit the website at www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Navigation/ Massachusetts/Boston-Harbor/. A map of the Boston Harbor FNP is available at www.nae.usace.army.mil/Portals/74/docs/ Navigation/MA/BOS/BOSMap.pdf. Jenifer Thalhauser, Christine Johnson-Batista, and Robert Casoli contributed to this article. n



efore COVID-19 drove pupils to school at home in early 2020, elementary students in the Hudson Valley looked out of their classroom windows at a nearby construction site and pondered over what they observed. Their interest in the project was not tied to the building itself, but to the features of the facility they were eager for the chance to experience. The new facility, a state-of-the-art elementary school for children of U.S. Army Soldiers and Department of Defense civilians who reside on the installation at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, was being built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) New York District.

21st CENTURY EDUCATION BUILDING “The building is designed to be used as a teaching tool and teaching environment,” said Denise DeMarco, the principal of West Point Elementary School. “Building systems and architecture can be used to illustrate and complement ‘STEAM’ education.” STEAM is an acronym meaning science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. The construction of this 21st century

education building was completed in spring 2020 to not only serve as a brick-and-mortar learning institution, but to highlight STEAM career fields. The new school will serve more than 500 students from pre-kindergarten age to fifth grade. The multistory, 95,552-square-foot school was built into the side of a mountain and has views of the Hudson River Valley. The building contains large bay windows and the interior is painted a wide variety of vibrant colors. The classrooms are different from typical ones. Instead of corridors with classrooms, there are flexible learning spaces, called learning neighborhoods. Inside these neighborhoods, there are learning studios and a teacher collaboration room surrounding a central learning hub. The studios may be used for large or small groups or one-on-one instruction. The center-hub area serves as a learning area that has a variety of different chairs and tables. Throughout the building, there are movable partition walls, allowing the teachers to expand or contract their lesson areas. Also, throughout the school, there are LED (light-emitting diode) light fixtures to complement the natural light that streams through the large windows and light wells. 15


To efficiently regulate the room temperature, a special pump system was set up that uses three pumps instead of one. This is part of a radiant heating system that supplies heat directly to the floors, wall panels, and ceilings. During the warmer months, the students will have air conditioning. Outside are playgrounds for different age groups, an outdoor patio for art classes, and an amphitheater for instruction, gatherings, and performances.

Not only is the school designed to educate students with different needs, the school itself serves as a STEAM teaching tool. In the hallways, pupils will learn about the building’s internal operating systems. There are glass windows on the hallway walls and ceilings, displaying the mechanical piping, wiring, and cabling systems. “There will be signs stating, ‘This is your chill water pipe, where your air conditioning comes from,’ and ‘This is a fire sprinkler pipe for fire protection,’” said Timothy Pillsworth, New York District project engineer. Students will learn about renewable energy by monitoring the solar panels and wind turbine on the roof that supply some of the building’s energy. No longer observers, the pupils are now benefiting from all that their new 21st century education building has to offer, and learning about STEAM careers along the way. n



Flexible learning spaces in the new West Point Elementary School. The center-hub area serves as a learning area that has a variety of different chairs and tables.



or a pair of real estate office staffers at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Norfolk District, there really is no confusing the forest for the trees. District foresters Andrew Willey and Stefan Flores are responsible for timber sales and helping manage forests on military installations and other Army real property. Through competitive industry bids – while meeting environmental compliance – they administer contracts, provide oversight of logging operations, and obtain maximum proceeds for federal projects and local communities. In support of installation foresters, the two handle timber removal for all of North Atlantic Division (NAD), and they’ve got the woods covered – from the Canadian border down to North Carolina. “Fort A.P. Hill [Virginia] is along the southern extent of our border,” Willey said. “We run into the New England states and extend over to

Fort Drum in western New York. The entire NAD corridor is the area we manage from Norfolk District. “Conducting timber harvests at these military installations allows for the opportunity to manage the Army’s landscape. It’s a large portfolio of land. What we can do as a service to the taxpayer is not only own and use this land, but maintain it as well.” Fiscal year 2020 was a record year for Norfolk District’s forestry program. By July, more than $1.1 million in standing timber had been sold on Army and Air Force land across the region, while sales revenue in Civil Works approached $200,000. Proceeds go toward natural resource management plans and local communities through state entitlements. Willey said the district’s foresters expanded their portfolio and partnerships throughout NAD, sparking the recent growth for this highly unique Army program. 17



By carrying out timber disposal, Norfolk District’s forestry section facilitates the USACE mission across the region, clearing space for military construction, housing, and environmental and Civil Works projects, he added. Proper harvesting and removal also aligns with military operational needs. Open ranges are created for large vehicles, infantry maneuvers, and other field training exercises. “The Army has a lot of standing timber out here that otherwise, without timber harvesting, would go untreated,” Willey said. “The untreated stands are less desirable to be mission ready for troop training.” Flores says managing the real property – the timber on each installation – supports the overall Army mission. “It’s an active part in sculpting an individual training area’s objective for readiness,” Flores said. “Our services enable the Army not only to adapt the training area and ranges [to their needs] but also capture value in the process. We are able to manage Army real estate and make way for changing military needs while collecting potential profits and funneling that money back into the landscape through different natural resource management projects.” Forest management ensures healthier forests, future timber supply, and sustained growth. Safety and eliminating environmental risks are other key factors. 18

A logging crew conducts tree removal during a timber harvest on the training ranges of Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, Nov. 7, 2019. The forestry section at Norfolk District handles forest management and timber sales for all of the North Atlantic Division. It’s a key program that promotes healthier forests while clearing space for military exercises and USACE projects on installations across the Northeast.

“If you have unmanaged stands, you can have an invasion of disease or pests that attack trees,” Willey said. “If you had a monoculture stand of pine, for example, and the Southern pine beetle sweeps through, essentially you now have a dead stand of pine. We’re mitigating that risk by doing timber harvests.” Dead trees add another threat to Army installations and surrounding communities: forest fire. “The last thing we want to do is load our woods with fuel or potential for more fire,” he added. “We’re fortunate on the East Coast – we’re generally wetter than the West [Coast]. “However, if we fall into an extended drought, we’re at risk for fire here.” Willey said the Norfolk District program generates more than $1 million annually in timber sales for the Army, including $550,000 from Fort A.P. Hill.

NORTH ATL ANTIC DIVISION The district’s real estate office works with installation foresters to prepare each sale. “We award contracts to purchasers, monitor the sale, and close it out,” he said. “All the revenue that comes in from that sale goes through our section. We ensure the Army gets the money for disposal of its real property, and the local communities also see a monetary benefit through state entitlements.” Flores said there are misconceptions about forestry, timber harvesting, and all that goes into today’s industry. He encourages people to consider just how many forest products are integrated into everyday life. “That is the simplest way to realize how important an industry and mission it is and increase awareness about the need for proper

management,” he said. “There are places where we have long been producing paper, lumber, and other products through the management of forested lands.” Beyond economics and mission support, however, land management is among the federal government’s most significant roles, he added. “We are put in a position of public trust where it’s expected of us and all other federal land managers to do what’s for the greatest good of this resource and the American people to which it belongs,” Flores said. “Preservation, growth, [and] planned disposal with regard to purpose and results – that’s what we do as foresters.” n



ver wonder what’s it like to be suspended hundreds of feet in the air with a rope harness? “It’s exhilarating – unlike any other feeling,” said Adrian Kollias, a structural engineer and team leader for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Philadelphia District. That experience is all in a day’s work for a team of engineers who conduct bridge inspections and evaluations for USACE. The Bridge Inspection and Evaluation Regional Center of Expertise (RCX), based in Philadelphia, consists of 15 engineers who provide design and evaluation services, 10 of whom are also rope-access-certified technicians. In addition to inspecting and evaluating bridges and other hydraulic steel structures for USACE districts across the country, the RCX team has also done work overseas and for other federal clients, including the Navy, Air Force, Department of Transportation, and Department of Energy. The inspection is the first step in the overall maintenance process. “With an existing bridge or structure, the most important part of maintenance is the inspection program, because that’s where you identify problems,” said Kollias. “If you don’t know where the problems are, you can’t address them.” Kollias explained that the team also provides design services and engineering support as repairs are made to structures. To serve on the team, engineers undergo intense training, including a two-week session on bridges and structures as well as a one-week course on rope access. During rope-access training, participants learn

how to use equipment, tie knots, and practice techniques for climbing. Team members also participate in periodic refresher courses. Structural engineer Joseph Gonglik recently completed rope-access training. He said serving on the rope-access inspection team provides opportunities to learn about a wide variety of structures and contribute to an important mission. “It means a lot to be able to participate in the inspections of our bridges, hydraulic steel structures, and flood control projects,” said Gonglik. “These are structures that people use every day and can be taken for granted. It’s our job to make sure these structures are in good condition and functioning as intended so we can all continue to go about our daily business without a second thought.” The RCX traces its roots to 1995, when a small team was established to inspect the Philadelphia District’s tower access bridges at its dams in Pennsylvania as well as bridges at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and in the Kansas City District. The team and its mission have evolved and expanded in the two decades since. “The growth of this team has been incredible,” said Cameron Chasten, chief of the Bridge Inspection RCX and Structures Branch in Philadelphia. “We started out with three structural engineers. Now we have 15, and the type of work we do has changed over the years as well.” Chasten pointed to several key milestones that have helped shape the team’s mission. In 2005, the team developed rope-access capability and began inspecting the Philadelphia District’s five high-level highway bridges across the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. In 2008, the North Atlantic Division commander at the time, then-Brig. Gen. Todd 19



T. Semonite, designated the team a Regional Center of Expertise for Bridge Inspection and Evaluation. And in 2011, the Omaha District tasked the team to inspect tainter gates on dams following the historic floods along the Missouri River. These developments led to substantial increases in work across the country. In recent years, the Philadelphia-based team has helped build national capacity by training Vicksburg and Tulsa districts’ personnel on rope-access techniques. And as other districts have increased their inspection capabilities, the team has been able to shift more of its focus and workload to providing design services.

USACE Philadelphia District structural engineer Jordan Wynn conducts a bridge inspection at the Mahoning Creek Lake in New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in July 2020.

Kollias has served with the team since the beginning. One of the things he enjoys is how it provides a balance between hands-on field work and engineering back in the office. “It’s good to be able to work in both elements – in an office setting and in the field. It’s all part of being a well-rounded engineer,” he said. n 21

GREAT LAKES AND OHIO RIVER DIVISION • The Great Lakes and Ohio River Division (LRD) is one of nine U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) regional commands with seven operating districts: Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Huntington, Louisville, and Nashville. LRD is a unique division with two distinct watersheds. • Region covers 335,000 square miles in 17 states: Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, serving more than 17 million people. • Includes 104 congressional districts, 34 U.S. senators, and 17 state delegations.

NATIONAL SECURITY: DELIVERING INNOVATIVE, RESILIENT, SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS TO THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (DOD) AND THE NATION • LRD’s Military Programs cover five states within its boundaries. • The division supports 15 installations: nine Army, four Air Force, one Navy, and one DOD, with an annual budget of more than $150 million for these efforts. • LRD executes more than $500 million per year in work for DOD as the engineering design and construction agent in major construction. The Army and Air Force Reserve are its largest military customers, as it supports their design and construction efforts nationwide. The reserves account for two-thirds of the division’s major construction program. • LRD is cleaning up hazardous, toxic, and radioactive waste, and military munitions at Formerly Used Defense Sites and closed military bases, with an annual budget of $70 million.

REDUCING DISASTER RISK: HELPING THE NATION RESPOND TO, RECOVER FROM, AND MITIGATE DISASTERS • Reducing disaster risk is something USACE does every day, from routine maintenance on dams to levee safety inspections, to designing and building flood risk reduction systems, to modeling and simulations. • LRD Readiness and Contingency Operations (RCO) is the national lead for the temporary emergency power mission. In support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), LRD deploys multi-skilled teams nationwide to install, operate, and de-install FEMA-owned generators at key critical facilities until commercial power is restored.


• Employs 4,200 civilian and military engineers, scientists, project managers, and technical experts. • Manages more than $2 billion in military and civil works design and construction projects. • USACE issues permits for all construction activities affecting U.S. waters. • Over the past five years, LRD averaged 10,400 general permits, 555 individual permits, and 7,300 jurisdictional determinations each year. • LRD is also home to three USACE virtual centers of expertise: the Dam Safety Modification Mandatory Center of Expertise, the Planning Center of Expertise for Inland Navigation and Risks Informed Economics Division, and the Inland Navigation Design Center.

• The division is the designated lead for response, recovery, and mitigation planning efforts in support of Emergency Support Function 3 (ESF #3) activities conducted under the National Response Framework – primarily in coordination with FEMA Region V as well as with the states of Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Kentucky. • LRD and its districts deploy engineering experts and provide flood fight supplies to state and local communities in times of high water at the request of governors. Most recently during late December 2015 and early January 2016 major flooding, six engineers were deployed to the lower Ohio and Wabash River basins and provided more than 70,000 sandbags to assist local flood fight efforts.

INTERAGENCY AND INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT • LRD provides technical assistance on a reimbursable basis to federal agencies, state and local governments, private U.S. firms, international organizations, and foreign governments at the request of the State Department or DOD. • Customers include the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service.

CIVIL WORKS: DELIVERING ENDURING AND ESSENTIAL WATER RESOURCE SOLUTIONS • Navigation – The Great Lakes Navigation System (GLNS) is a continuous 27-foot deep-draft waterway extending from the western end of Lake Superior at Duluth, Minnesota, to

the Gulf of the St. Lawrence River on the Atlantic Ocean, a distance of more than 2,400 miles. This binational resource is composed of the five Great Lakes, the connecting channels of the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The U.S. portion of the system includes 140 harbors (60 commercial, 80 recreational), two operational locks, 104 miles of breakwaters and jetties, and more than 600 miles of maintained navigation channels. In addition, the GLNS connects to several other shallow-draft waterways (Illinois Waterway, New York State Barge Canal, etc.) to form an important waterborne transportation network, reaching deep into the continent. The Great Lakes handled 128 million tons of commodities in 2013. Major commodities transported included iron ore (42%), coal (19%), and limestone (19%). • Ohio River System (main stem and tributaries) provides 2,600 miles of navigable waters and enables 245 million tons of cargo to ship annually, equating to nearly 30% of the country’s

domestic waterborne commerce, with the main commodity being coal. • Flood Risk Management protects people and the economy – LRD manages 84 dams and reservoirs for flood risk reduction, water supply, environmental stewardship, and recreation in cooperation with local water supply managers and stakeholders. • LRD has 539 miles of levees and more than 100 local flood protection projects that include walls, levees, and channel improvements. • The division helps fight floods during flood conditions and repair certified levees that are damaged by storms. • LRD manages 1.5 million acres of land and water including 756 recreation areas at 100 lake and river sites. These areas receive more than 80 million visitors annually and generate 27,000 jobs in local communities. They include parks, campgrounds, marinas, swim areas, and hiking trails, and offer a host of other recreational activities for outdoor enthusiasts.


Northerly Island, Illinois.



acilitating economic growth, improving quality of life, and increasing the environmental health of the nation are key foundational components of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) mission.

Through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), USACE is one of 16 federal agencies participating in the administration’s initiative to protect and restore the world’s largest freshwater system. The program, which originated in 2010, has already made significant 23



Braddock Bay, New York.

strides in cleaning up areas of concern (AOCs), stopping the spread of invasive species, and restoring fish and wildlife habitat throughout the Great Lakes watershed. The partnerships between federal agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which administers the program, have been the key to making this program effective in delivering results across the Great Lakes. Among several other worthwhile outcomes, these partnerships have led to the elimination of numerous beneficial-use impairments at Great Lakes AOCs, which will ultimately result in the delisting of AOCs across the lakes. “Thanks to the funding provided by GLRI, the Corps of Engineers can plan, design, and construct a wide range of restoration projects to address all five focus areas of the initiative. But GLRI not only represents a great resource for the Great Lakes, it also represents an incredibly powerful collaborative effort with our state and nonfederal partners, which helps us deliver successful projects to leave positive, lasting impacts on the region for generations to come,” said Lt. Col. Eli Adams, Buffalo District commander.

GREAT LAKES RESTORATION INITIATIVE FOCUS AREAS INCLUDE: FOCUS AREA 1: Toxic substances and AOCs includes remediation and restoration of the most polluted areas of the Great Lakes, and characterizing and assessing risks that emerging contaminants may pose to the Great Lakes. FOCUS AREA 2: Invasive species includes preventing new invasive species’ introductions to the Great Lakes ecosystem and controlling existing invasive species populations, including preventing the establishment of self-sustaining populations of Asian carp. FOCUS AREA 3: Nonpoint source pollution impacts on nearshore health focuses on high-priority watershed and polluted runoff reductions from urban, suburban, and agricultural sources, including activities to reduce nutrient runoff to prevent harmful and nuisance algal blooms. 24

FOCUS AREA 4: Habitats and species includes protecting, restoring, and enhancing habitat and populations of native fish and wildlife species in the Great Lakes basin. FOCUS AREA 5: Foundations for future restoration actions includes conducting comprehensive science programs and projects, assessing the overall health of the Great Lakes, and educating the next generation about the Great Lakes ecosystem. To accomplish projects addressed by these focus areas, USACE leverages existing authorities and regional Great Lakes’ programs. The Great Lakes Fishery & Ecosystem Restoration (GLFER) program is being used to plan, design, and construct projects to restore wetlands, provide fishery connectivity to the Great Lakes, and control sea lamprey and other aquatic nuisance species. The Great Lakes Remedial Action Plan (RAP) program is being used to help states and local partners plan and design actions to clean up and delist AOCs, while the USACE Regional Sediment Management (RSM) program is being used to encourage the beneficial use of dredged material to create coastal wetlands and to help state and local entities evaluate and compare alternatives for soil conservation and nonpoint source pollution prevention. From the start of the program through fiscal year 2020, USACE has received more than $446 million in GLRI funding. The vast majority of these funds go directly toward planning, design, and construction of projects. “The GLRI is an incredible success story with tremendous and widespread support. This initiative has allowed the Corps of Engineers to utilize our expertise in multi-agency water resources planning and execution while showcasing our capabilities to multiple federal, state, and tribal entities,” said Great Lakes Program Manager Carl Platz. “It’s truly inspiring to see how the Great Lakes ecosystem is benefitting from the partnerships that continue to develop, as we all work together to achieve common goals.” More information on USACE’s involvement in the GLRI program can be found at: www.lrd.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/ Great-Lakes-Restoration-Initiative-GLRI/. n



Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, former commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, looks out over COVID-19 patient spaces at McCormick Place in Chicago April 1, 2020. Work began at McCormick Place, through Walsh Construction, March 29, to convert three halls in the convention center into a 3,000-patient ACF and was fully completed April 23, with some patient spaces being turned over in phases.



he U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Chicago District, at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the states of Illinois and Wisconsin, mobilized to plan and construct alternate care facilities (ACFs) in Chicagoland and the Milwaukee area as part of the federal interagency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. ACFs provide additional patient space capacity for non-acute COVID-19 cases to help alleviate surges on area hospitals, so that the more critical patients can receive the care they need. In all, the Chicago District built ACFs to accommodate 5,000 patient spaces throughout Chicagoland and the Milwaukee area in April and May 2020. “The collaboration on site has been like nothing I have seen in 26 years of military service. From day one, everyone brought their A-team, everyone brought an attitude focused on delivering the

outcome, and really focused on delivering the mission,” said Col. Aaron W. Reisinger, commander and district engineer of the Chicago District from 2017 to 2020. “Everyone worked hand in hand to overcome challenges and problems that otherwise would have taken weeks, if not months, to solve.” USACE mobilized March 22 under threat that Chicago could become a “hot spot” for COVID-19. Not long afterward, the state of Wisconsin and Milwaukee officials also requested through FEMA construction of ACFs dedicated to the treatment of COVID-19 patients. USACE constructed ACFs at McCormick Place in Chicago, the State Fair Park in West Allis, Wisconsin, and three shuttered hospitals in Cook County, Illinois – Metro South in Blue Island, Westlake in Melrose Park, and the former Sherman Hospital in Elgin – all to ensure that no patients would have to be turned away due to shortages of bed space. 25



Left: Pictured from left to right, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot; Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker; U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth; and Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy (far right) attend a turnover ceremony at McCormick Place in Chicago, April 17. Three halls at the McCormick Place convention center were converted into a 3,000-patient ACF. Below Left: Navy Lt. Miranda L. Bassett, a construction manager for the Naval Support Activity Crane Public Works Department, deployed to Chicago to help USACE’s Chicago District convert spaces into ACFs. Bassett worked on the Westlake ACF in Melrose Park, Illinois, which was completed by USACE on April 25.

Construction began April 8, was completed April 18, and was turned over to the Wisconsin Department of Administration to accommodate the overflow of low-acuity COVID-19 patients from Wisconsin hospitals and other health care facilities.



CONVENTION CENTER TO HEALTH CARE Work began at McCormick Place, through Walsh Construction, March 29, to convert three halls in the convention center into a 3,000-patient ACF and was fully completed April 23, with some patient spaces being turned over in phases. In less than a week, the first hall of the convention center was converted into a 500-patient ACF and turned over April 3. At the turnover, the commanding general for the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, Maj. Gen. Robert F. Whittle, spoke on how USACE rapidly came up with a plan to provide a solution to create extra patient space capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We knew that across America, at any given time, about two-thirds of all hospital beds are full, and about two-thirds of all ICU beds are full,” said Whittle. “So, if a virus is coming,” he continued, “it can be expected that the remaining one-third of hospital beds that are typically empty and the remaining one-third of ICU beds that are typically empty may be filled.” In Wisconsin, an ACF was also materializing quickly. Unlike McCormick, this ACF was built on site, whereas much of the McCormick ACF was prefabricated. Working under the direction of the Chicago District, USACE’s contractor, Gilbane, Inc., built a fully functioning ACF, with hardline oxygen, hard-stand showers, restrooms, and patient areas in nine days at the Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis. 26

In Blue Island, Elgin, and Melrose Park, Illinois, the Chicago District constructed ACFs from shuttered hospitals, converting numerous spaces, such as the emergency department, labor and delivery, and ICU and hospital office space, into patient bed areas. Work began March 29 at Metro South Medical Center in Blue Island and Sherman Hospital in Elgin as USACE led teams of contractors and officials through both of the shuttered Chicago-area hospitals in preparation for construction. These projects were completed on April 23. The Metro South Medical Center served the Blue Island community for more than a century before closing its doors in 2019. USACE’s contractor, Clark Construction, led a design-build team in revitalizing the once-dormant facility into a fully operational ACF. Sherman Hospital in Elgin had been shuttered for a decade. USACE’s contractor, Turner Construction, also led a design-build team in revitalizing the once-dormant facility into a fully operational ACF. Work began at Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park on April 5 and was completed on April 25. Working under the direction of the Chicago District, Bulley & Andrews served as the design-build contractor that led the construction effort to convert the former hospital.

MILWAUKEE COUNTY HOUSE OF CORRECTION Correctional facilities across the United States had become hotbeds for COVID-19. It was determined that designated space for COVID-19 patients would be needed. Through FEMA, USACE was asked to survey the Lotter Building at the Milwaukee County House of Corrections in Franklin, Wisconsin. The Chicago District surveyed this site on April 18 and determined it viable as a potential ACF and received the order from FEMA April 30 to construct 120 patient-care spaces. USACE awarded a contract to Gilbane, Inc., to retrofit this space into an ACF. Construction began May 4, with a required delivery date of May 29; the Chicago District delivered this project after 16 days of construction. During emergencies, USACE is the federal government’s first public works and engineering support agency. Its extensive work in building medical facilities for its military stakeholders makes it uniquely qualified to tackle this engineering challenge. n






BY PATRICK BR AY, Chicago District

Lake Michigan Area Office (Appleton) MENASHA







Projects Offices (9) Locks and Dams (6)


Dams (12) Reservoirs (3) Chicago

WAUKEGAN HARBOR Northern Area Office

CHICAGO HARBOR Chicago River Lock

Chicago District Main Office

Lockport Lock & Dam

Dresden Island Lock & Dam



TJ O'Brien Lock & Dam Brandon Road Lock & Dam


Calumet Area Office

Marseilles Lock & Dam

Mississinewa Lake


Salamonie Lake Upper Wabash Area Office SALAMONIE LAKE DAM Mississinewa Lake

Salamonie Lake

J. Edward Roush Lake


organizations. Approximately 30 personnel who live and work in the Chicago metropolitan area now find their district headquarters a lot closer to home. The goal is to have no adverse effects on employees, no reductions in pay, and no geographic relocations of personnel, and no negative cost or schedule impacts on projects. Individual employees in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin will report to the Chicago District. Still, they already live and work in these states. n




he U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) adjusted its Civil Works Program boundaries within the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division (LRD) in 2020 to sustain a healthy workload across USACE. At midnight March 29, 2020, the division transferred to the Chicago District: • the Lake Michigan watershed within the state of Wisconsin; • the upper Wabash River watershed in the state of Indiana; and • the upper Kankakee River and Iroquois River watersheds in the state of Indiana. The Mississippi Valley Division (MVD) transferred: • inland waterways infrastructure within the existing Chicago District boundaries; and • the headwaters of the Illinois River, including the remainder of the Fox and Kankakee rivers’ watersheds. Additionally, a new construction design team will be established within the district. In total, the Chicago District grew from about 4,000 square miles to more than 31,000 square miles. A balanced workload will provide continued program sustainability within LRD and MVD. All districts will be positioned as sustainable, healthy organizations, providing high value to the nation. In the 1970s, USACE found the general public increasingly reluctant to support large-scale projects. Toward the end of the decade, this reluctance began to be reflected in a declining workload for the Chicago District. In 1980, after a significant reorganization study initiated by USACE, Chicago District activities in Illinois outside of the metropolitan area transferred to the Rock Island District and activities in Wisconsin moved to the Detroit District. The realignment of the Chicago District addresses a workload imbalance and ensures all districts remain sustainable and healthy

Kewaunee Operations Office




n mid-March 2020, just as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Detroit District was readying to take on anticipated massive flooding issues associated with record-high lake levels in the Great Lakes region, the nation was preparing to take on another disaster: coronavirus. While watching numbers of COVID-19 cases rise in the nation, Detroit District leadership predicted supporting Michigan 27


Michigan National Guard Adjutant General Brig. Gen. Pablo Estrada Jr., and Esther Johnson, project manager for the Suburban Collection Showplace Alternate Care Facility, synchronize activities in Novi, Michigan. Coordinating with the state of Michigan, Detroit District worked hard to ensure that extra beds needed in the communities with the largest requirements was what was focused on first.

and met with state agency personnel to provide information on USACE’s capability. Those early discussions led to fruitful collaboration amid the stress of coronavirus growth over the next few weeks. The district assembled a response team and began assessing sites for conversion to alternate care facilities (ACFs) on March 25. For three weeks, USACE, accompanied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Health and Human Services, and state and local medical personnel, evaluated facilities to determine the possibility of conversion into hospital-like facilities. Twenty-eight of 32 sites were assessed. Two locations, the TCF Center in Detroit and the Suburban Collection Showplace (SCS) in Novi, were selected to be transformed for COVID-19 patients. Construction on the TCF Center began on March 31 immediately after a contract was awarded. The 350,000-square-foot conversion of the convention center into a medical facility with 970 bed spaces across two floors took only nine days to complete and was the first in the nation to be turned over by USACE. The TCF was the first USACE ACF to attempt and achieve negative pressure throughout the entire convention hall. To negate the logistics of rolling hundreds of oxygen canisters in and out of the facility several times a day, the project also involved direct-piped oxygen to more than half the beds. “The most tedious part of the project was the cutting, fitting, and brazing of over 10,000 feet of clean copper piping for medical gas

capable of providing each patient with 10 liters per minute of oxygen,” said Michael Allis, project manager for the TCF ACF. Pressure testing revealed only one area that had to be redone, marking an extraordinary project accomplishment. The Detroit District’s ACF team grew to approximately 90 members as they completed the TCF Center and prepared to begin converting other arenas for Michigan. Following the TCF model, district engineers were requested to adapt the Suburban Collection Showplace into an ACF. The team started to finalize the layout, designing to accommodate 1,100 bed spaces. However, five days into the design-build process, the scope of work at SCS was decreased to a 250-patient-bed facility. In a non-emergency response setting, a project change like this would have caused a lot of issues. But through strong state and local partnerships and the overarching common goal of response to coronavirus for Michigan, the ACF team overcame this hurdle with minimal costs, ultimately delivering the project on time and under budget. Construction was completed on April 20. Remarking on the district’s ability to deliver two ACFs to Michigan in less than a month, Nick Zager, Detroit District ACF project team chief, said, “The ACF mission would have been futile without the hard-working men and women of the district stepping up to help their neighbors, the citizens of Michigan. There is certainly no greater responsibility than serving the citizens of this nation in our time of need.” n 29


An aerial view just downriver from the Bluestone Dam on the New River in Hinton, West Virginia, shows the recently constructed coffer dam that divides the stilling basin just below the dam (in lower right).



fter more than 20 years of construction, the work bringing the massive Bluestone Dam up to modern safety standards is entering the final phase of work. Operation of the dam began in 1949 along the New River in Hinton, West Virginia, and it has reduced significant flooding to homes and businesses across the state along the New, Kanawha, and Ohio rivers. But by the end of the 20th century, it was evident that the dam needed additional work to bring it up to modern engineering standards. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) divided its Dam Safety Assurance project into five separate “phases” of work. It includes building a massive concrete thrust block to strengthen and stabilize the dam with a unique system of more than 500 rock anchors that are directionally drilled deep into the bedrock to help resist the intense forces of extreme storm waters. Now Phase 5 is underway, and it will redesign and strengthen the stilling basin, which is the area just below the downstream side of the dam. It includes placing stone and large concrete baffles that remove the water’s energy before it continues downstream. Studies have shown that an intense storm might wash away the stone in that basin and cause erosion, undermining the dam. The first step called for constructing a coffer dam that forms a concrete wall that divides the basin. One side will continue normal water


flow while the other side is lined with concrete, and larger concrete baffles are constructed. Once one side is finished, including installing a permanent dividing wall to allow easy dewatering of the area for future inspections, the process will be reversed. To celebrate the official beginning of the project, USACE hosted a groundbreaking ceremony near the dam’s base on July 17, 2020, with federal, state, and local officials taking part. Among the speakers at the event was Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Commander Maj. Gen. Robert F. Whittle Jr., who said, “The fact is, our contractors are the great strength of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and we truly value our partnership. We work together to ensure the life and safety of this community.” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said, “When we think back four years ago, 2016 … we had a flood that came through southern West Virginia. Had this dam not been a fully functioning, well-engineered dam, who knows what the consequences could have been?” The work is made possible because in 2018, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act, which appropriated $17 billion to USACE for infrastructure projects. That included all the funds required for the Huntington District to complete this phase of work. When completed, the dam will be able to handle all but the most catastrophic weather events and will continue guarding the residents who live along the rivers that flow below the towering concrete structure. n





ake Michigan is the third largest of the Great Lakes by surface area and the second largest by volume. And located on Lake Michigan is Waugoshance Point Target, a Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) of which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) recently completed a remedial investigation. “The area was formerly used by the U.S. Navy for a short time between 1944 and 1945 in support of Naval Air Station Traverse City, Michigan,” said David Brancato, Ph.D., USACE Louisville District risk assessment subject-matter expert. “There were limited equipment testing and scheduled bombing missions and machine-gun strafing practice from aircraft.” After World War II, the needs of the nation changed. Eventually, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources began managing Waugoshance Point Target under the Wilderness State Park, offering year-round recreational activities and natural resource conservation. Training missions ceased at the former naval air station, and the leased target areas, including Waugoshance Point Target, were no longer needed. The property was declared eligible for the FUDS program in June 2007, said Nick Stolte, a munitions response expert with USACE’s Environmental and Munitions Center of Expertise located in Huntsville, Alabama. Following the Military Munitions Response Program’s authorization in spring 2010, a preliminary assessment was completed with the recommendation of a remedial investigation. According to Stolte, no munitions and explosives of concern were observed. “No munitions have been discovered, but we did find a small amount of munitions debris,” he said. “Based on the results of the remedial investigation, there is no evidence that high-explosive munitions were used. All evidence suggests that only practice bombs were used.”

A diver prepares for an underwater investigation in the area surrounding the lighthouse at Waugoshance Point, Michigan. The diver uses a metal detector to search for evidence of munitions potentially remaining due to prior use of the lighthouse as a practice target.

Therefore, USACE’s recommendation was no further action as no unacceptable risk was found at Waugoshance Point, Temperance Island, Waugoshance Island, nor at the old Waugoshance Lighthouse, Brancato said. 31


REMEMBER THE 3 Rs: Recognize: When you discover a suspicious item or a possible munition, remember that they can be very dangerous. Do not touch, kick, throw something, or do anything else to disturb the item. Remember that old munitions are sometimes not readily identifiable and may appear to be any other metallic or rusty item. Use caution, leave it alone, and do not touch it. Retreat: If you know or suspect that you have found a possible munition, mark the area with a small item, such as a hat or pen, and immediately walk away on the same path you came in on. Do not run. Report: Report the location of the suspicious item immediately to your local law enforcement officials by dialing 911.

Completing the remedial investigation did not come easy, though. It took time, effort, patience, and expertise. “The biggest challenge was the marine environment and the weather. Collecting geophysical data underwater is always difficult, but it was especially difficult in this part of the country,” Stolte said. “In the Mackinac [Straits], we frequently encountered high winds and waves that made data-collection tedious and sometimes impossible.” Brancato added that the team had to adjust and delay investigations because of lake conditions and avoid affecting seasonal boaters. Even with a few barriers that manifested, the project is tracking an early completion. “The success of this project is due to the teamwork and coordination among the district, the Military Munitions Design Center, the contractor, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Great Lakes, and Energy,” Stolte said. The remedial investigation is complete, and USACE has received concurrence with a recommendation of no further action. The project is slated for completion in spring 2021. n



ennessee is known as the “Volunteer State.” When America called, Tennesseans stepped forward to fight COVID-19. On March 21, while recovering from a tornado’s damages just a week prior, Lt. Col. Sonny Avichal, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Nashville District, signed an emergency declaration for the COVID-19 response, activating the Emergency Operations Center. On April 2, President Donald Trump ordered USACE and the Nashville District to build alternative care sites to accommodate patient overflows in civilian hospitals. The district accomplished the mission by constructing world-class facilities in Memphis and Nashville in record time. The COVID-19 Pandemic Response Task Force comprised 118 Tennessee employees who volunteered to mobilize for the mission in Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Memphis. Emergency command vehicles rotated to locations around the state and deployed to assist in Detroit and Novi, Michigan. Engineering teams conducted 45 site assessments of proposed locations across the state.


They rapidly provided vital information needed for leadership within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) to select the best locations and to commit FEMA funding to start construction. Two locations were selected: the Commercial Appeal building in Memphis and Nashville General Hospital. Commercial Appeal would have 401 beds and Nashville General Hospital 67, with a budget of $55 million and $10.5 million, respectively. Literally within hours of receiving the mission task order, contracts were signed and the mission commenced. Under normal circumstances, the Nashville project would have taken five to nine months to complete, but USACE, in partnership with Turner Construction, accomplished the task in just 28 days. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said, “To be able to pull this off and accomplish this in the middle of a pandemic and health crisis is an incredible opportunity for our community.” The $7.2 million project included a full-service under-pressure medical suite with enough space to care for more than 67 non-acute COVID-19 patients.



Pictured from left to right: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Maj. Gen. Robert F. Whittle Jr., commander of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, presents Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Nashville Mayor John Cooper a plaque to commemorate the alternate care site construction turnover ceremony at the Nashville General Hospital project, June 5, 2020.

Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Commander Maj. Gen. Robert F. Whittle Jr., said, “Great things can happen when we work together at the federal, state, and local levels.” A unique aspect of Nashville General Hospital is that it is the only operating hospital-based alternate care site in the nation, which necessitated the safety of the crew and hospital staff in an active bio-hazard environment while constructing the project.

BY ANDRE W BYRNE, Pit tsburgh District


ake up, put on a pair of boots, a hard hat, and a life jacket: This is Kevin Bricker’s daily routine as he heads to work an eight-hour shift as a lock operator on the Allegheny River.



“Working in an active hospital environment to ensure crew safety was the priority, and we were very proud to deliver the site on schedule,” said Loren McDonald, mission manager. “The overwhelming cooperation between agencies to deliver these projects was critical, and it took above-and-beyond effort by everyone,” McDonald said. “But there is a silver lining, [and] there is nothing like emergency response management when it comes to seeing immediate results of your work.” n

Lock operators Derek Christian, left, and Jason Pritt follow CDC guidelines at Dashields Lock and Dam.





Left: District staff members Amanda Rexrode, left, and Jeff Toler practice social distancing at Stonewall Jackson Lake. Right: Lock operators Joe Kushner, left, and Robert Anderson complete work on a waterline at Point Marion Lock and Dam.

That was until the coronavirus pandemic hit western Pennsylvania. Now he has to wear a face mask to work, sanitize everything he touches, and maintain a 6-foot distance from his co-workers. Like many people across the world – such as nurses, caregivers, grocery store employees, and first responders – Bricker is one of many “essential personnel” who cannot do his job from his home and has to risk contact with the infection every day. “The American public needs us out here, getting our jobs done. They need the 12-hour nurse or trauma doctor, the people who get the jobs done that they can’t do,” said Bricker. “We come with the attitude that, yes, this has to get done. Nobody can get this job done but us. It’s a brave new world.” The dangers of his job are not lost on Bricker; while he knows his role is vital to the nation, he is conscious of the risks. “What if I go in and touch something contaminated? The guys before me sanitized everything, but with the risk of just going out of my house every day, it’s in the back of my mind,” said Bricker. “All the time, to protect me, the people I work with, and my family. I don’t want to take anything home to them, nor do I want to bring anything here.” Lock operators play a critical role in the U.S. economy, enabling barges and other ships to transport goods and commodities via the nation’s rivers. Four locks on the lower Monongahela River enabled nearly 6.7 million tons of cargo to traverse the waterways last year. In a COVID-19 era, lock facilities are operating under a new normal. “Everyone’s putting in 110% to make sure we’re adhering to CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines,” said Mike Clark, lock and dam equipment supervisor at four West Virginia facilities. “You walk in here, and it smells like a hospital, but we’re still getting things done. Operators have more time to help mechanics, work on new signs, and doing critical maintenance. They’re adapting to the new situation.”

Both locks and recreation sites have limited the number of personnel on site, resulting in longer workweeks and additional overtime to keep themselves, their coworkers, and their families safe. “Everyone is working about 16 hours of overtime a pay period,” said Emily Potter, natural resource manager at Conemaugh River Lake. “We’ve had more time to focus on environmental stewardship and flood control management missions. We’re still doing critical preventative maintenance and getting big jobs done.” While facility staff are finding solutions to their new occupational hazards, they faced new challenges: bringing essential summer staff onboard without putting them at risk. “We’re going to train summer staff virtually so that they meet their training requirements and are ready for the recreation season,” said park ranger Joe Kolodziej. “Even though we’re focusing on essential tasks, we’re protecting our workforce and our future workforce while delivering the mission.” Hundreds of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel are adapting to their new circumstances across the district. While each facility faces its challenges, staff continue to accomplish what needs to be done. “I am extremely proud of the teamwork and professionalism displayed across the district during this unique and trying period in history,” said Col. Andrew Short, commander, Pittsburgh District. “Their courage and commitment epitomize the excellence we aspire to achieve here in the Pittsburgh District.” Although there are challenges working as an essential employee in a COVID-19 world, district staff remain resilient and see a silver lining. “The closures, minimized staffing, and limited access to the public show that this organization cares,” said Potter. “We care for our people and the public by reducing exposure. Even if it means overtime for us, we’re doing what we can to finish the mission and get done what needs done. I think we’ve gotten through the worst and can start working our way back towards normalcy.” n 35



he Mississippi Valley Division is responsible for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) water resources programs within 370,000 square miles of the Mississippi River Valley. The division boundary encompasses the entire Mississippi River from Lake Itasca, Minnesota, to the Gulf of Mexico, and includes all or parts of 12 states: Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. District offices located in St. Paul, Minnesota; Rock Island, Illinois; St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; Vicksburg, Mississippi; and New Orleans, Louisiana, conduct the programs and activities overseen by the division. More than 250 tributaries drain into the Mississippi River, the largest of which are the Ohio and Missouri rivers. The 1.25-millionsquare-mile Mississippi River drainage basin (third largest in the

ST. PAUL DISTRICT The St. Paul District encompasses 139,000 square miles in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa. Four river basins fall under its jurisdiction: the Upper Mississippi River, the Red River of the North, the Souris River, and the Rainy River. The district employs nearly 700 professionals at more than 40 sites within its five-state footprint. • 4 drainage basins • 13 locks and dams • 16 reservoirs • 49 recreation areas with 650 campsites • 280 miles of 9-foot navigation channels maintained

ROCK ISLAND DISTRICT The USACE Rock Island District administers federal water resource programs across more than 73,000 square miles of eastern Iowa, northern Illinois, and portions of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Missouri. This area includes 314 miles of the Mississippi River, 268 miles of the Illinois Waterway, and multiple tributaries within the watershed. Approximately 900 professionals are employed with the district 36

world) gathers water from 41% of the continental United States, including all or parts of 31 states and two Canadian provinces. Missions throughout the division include: • Navigation • Flood risk management • Environmental stewardship • Emergency operations • Real estate management • Regulatory • Recreation • Support for others • Water supply • Hydropower • Hurricane and storm damage risk reduction • Formerly Utilized Sites Remediation Action Program

at its headquarters building and 27 field office sites. • 5 river basins: Des Moines, Rock, Iowa/ Cedar, Illinois, and Mississippi • 5 reservoirs: Saylorville, Red Rock, Coralville, Farmdale, and Fondulac • 18 lock and dam sites • 582 miles of navigation channel • 97 recreation sites with 1,850 campsites, 38 boat ramps, 10 swimming beaches, and 5 visitor centers

ST. LOUIS DISTRICT Founded in 1872, the St. Louis District is strategically located at the crossroads of three major river systems: the Illinois, Mississippi, and Missouri. The district encompasses some 28,000 square miles, almost equally divided between Illinois and Missouri. The district is responsible for 300 miles of the Mississippi from Saverton, Missouri, to Cairo, Illinois; 80 miles of the Illinois River and 36 miles of the Kaskaskia River; and 87 levees protecting 575,000 acres of economic and agricultural interests in the region. The district employs more than 650 professionals at its headquarters and 12 field office sites. • 10 rivers • 5 locks and dams

• 5 reservoirs: Carlyle, Shelbyville, Mark Twain, Rend, and Wappapello • 750 miles of levees • 92 flood control systems • 416 miles of navigable channel • 70 pumping plants • 162 recreation areas with 4,141 campsites and 498 picnic sites • 1 hydropower plant

MEMPHIS DISTRICT Founded in 1882, the Memphis District encompasses 25,000 square miles in portions of Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky. Eleven major river basins fall under its jurisdiction, including the Mississippi, Ohio, White, and St. Francis rivers, and West Tennessee tributaries. The Memphis District employs approximately 550 professional and skilled employees in its headquarters, Ensley Engineer Yard, area offices, and pumping plants. • 4 pumping plants • 11 drainage basins • 90 flood control structures • 741 miles of navigable channel • 1,200 miles of levees, including 640 miles of mainline Mississippi River levees



Founded in 1873, the Vicksburg District encompasses 68,000 square miles in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Seven major river basins fall under its jurisdiction, including the Mississippi, Red, Ouachita, Pearl, and Yazoo rivers. The district employs approximately 1,100 personnel in its district headquarters and 11 field offices. • 3 hydropower projects • 8 drainage basins • 10 major flood control reservoirs with 1,673 miles of shoreline • 9 locks and dams • 21 pumping plants • 478 flood control structures • 193 recreation areas with 2,084 campsites and 1,846 picnic sites • 1,808 miles of levees, including 468 along the Mississippi River • 1,252 miles of navigable channel

The New Orleans District encompasses 30,000 square miles in Louisiana. It employs approximately 1,000 professionals at 33 sites within its area of operations. • 5 of the nation’s 15 busiest ports • 14 recreation areas with 30 campsites and 20 picnic sites • 15 pumping plants • 18 locks and control structures • 325 miles of hurricane risk reduction levees • 973 miles of Mississippi River and tributaries’ levees • 2,800 miles of navigable waterway • 8,000 annual regulatory actions

MISSISSIPPI VALLEY DIVISION/ MISSISSIPPI RIVER COMMISSION P.O. Box 80 Vicksburg, MS 39181 (601) 634-5760 www.mvd.usace.army.mil/ www.facebook.com/mississippivalleydivision/ twitter.com/MVD_USACE www.facebook.com/mississippirivercommission twitter.com/msrivercomm

ST. PAUL DISTRICT 180 5th Street E., Ste. 700 St. Paul, MN 55101-1678 (651) 290-5807 www.mvp.usace.army.mil/ www.facebook.com/usace.saintpaul twitter.com/StPaulUSACE www.flickr.com/photos/usace-stpaul/ www.youtube.com/user/usacemvppao www.instagram.com/stpaulusace/ www.linkedin.com/company/u.s.armycorpsofengineersst.pauldistrict

ROCK ISLAND DISTRICT Clock Tower Building P.O. Box 2004 Rock Island, IL 61204-2004 (800) 799-8302 or (309) 794-4200 www.mvr.usace.army.mil/ www.facebook.com/RockIslandDistrictUSACE twitter.com/USACERockIsland www.youtube.com/c/USACERockIslandDistrict usacerockisland.mobapp.at/landing/Desktop www.instagram.com/usacerockisland/ www.linkedin.com/company/us-army-corps-of-engineers-rock-island-district

ST. LOUIS DISTRICT 1222 Spruce St. St. Louis, MO 63103 (314) 331-8000 www.mvs.usace.army.mil/ www.facebook.com/teamsaintlouis twitter.com/teamsaintlouis www.youtube.com/user/TeamSaintLouis www.instagram.com/teamsaintlouis_usace

MEMPHIS DISTRICT 167 N. Main St., Room B-202 Memphis, TN 38103-1894 (901) 544-3360 www.mvm.usace.army.mil/ www.facebook.com/MemphisUSACE twitter.com/MemphisDistrict www.youtube.com/user/MemphisDistrictCorps www.instagram.com/usacememphis/

VICKSBURG DISTRICT 4155 East Clay St. Vicksburg, MS 39183-3435 (601) 631-5000 www.mvk.usace.army.mil/ www.facebook.com/VicksburgUSACE www.youtube.com/channel/UCpYFx06MglFCMVk3RYoSkVw twitter.com/vicksburgusace

NEW ORLEANS DISTRICT 7400 Leake Ave. New Orleans, LA 70118 (504) 862-2201 www.mvn.usace.army.mil/ www.facebook.com/usacenola/ twitter.com/teamneworleans www.flickr.com/photos/teamneworleans www.youtube.com/user/teamneworleans




Workers place the first loads of concrete at the diversion inlet site near Horace, North Dakota, July 27, 2020.

BY PATRICK MOES, St. Paul District


onstruction literally reached new heights this past summer on the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area Flood Risk Management Project. After more than 10 years of planning, investigations, and design by a regional team, the St. Paul District is making historic strides in reducing future flood risk for the more than 230,000 people who live within the Fargo, North Dakota/Moorhead, Minnesota metro area, said Terry Williams, St. Paul District program manager and North Dakota native. The construction efforts are starting to be noticeable, she added. The construction includes work on the diversion inlet, near Horace, North Dakota, and the Wild Rice River structure, near St. Benedict,


North Dakota. The diversion inlet structure construction had been suspended for legal reasons, but Williams said it has since ramped up and reached another major milestone: the first placement of concrete at the site. “It’s a huge day for our project, our design team, and our sponsors,” she said. “It signifies years of hard work by a lot of people to get here, and I am excited to see the structure come out of the ground.” The concrete work is expected to last into 2021 and will serve as the foundation for three 50-foot-wide control gates that will be used to manage the amount of water that is diverted into the diversion channel and around the metro area. They anticipate needing 11,700 cubic yards of concrete for the inlet project, said Williams.

As the diversion inlet construction makes noticeable strides, the Wild Rice River structure is also making progress. Williams said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and its contractor, Ames Construction, are taking lessons learned from constructing the diversion inlet and incorporating them into the Wild Rice structure. The contractor has excavated approximately 100,000 of the required 800,000 cubic yards of soil in preparation for the foundation and concrete work. Williams said she estimates that both the diversion inlet and Wild Rice projects will be finished in 2023. USACE is also preparing to award three additional construction projects in 2021: construction of the first segment of dam embankment; the Interstate Highway 29 road raise; and the Drain 27 wetland restoration project. While USACE continues its efforts to design and construct the southern embankment or dam features of the project, it is also working with its partner, the FM Diversion Authority, on finalizing the public-private partnership procurement for the design, build, finance, operation, and maintenance of the 30-mile-long diversion channel. This public-private partnership delivery method allows a contractor to help fund and build the diversion channel faster than traditional construction methods. “The Corps and the Diversion Authority are working collectively to implement this $2.75 billion project,” Williams said. “This approach helps the community receive benefits from the project faster and at a lower cost.” Williams said the goal is to have the entire project completed in 2027. Once finished, she said, the project will not only protect the people within the metropolitan area but also the economic center of the region and the state of North Dakota. “We talk about this being a regional project and important to the economy, but when you drill down to what it means to a family in the area,” she said, “it means that they will be able to go about their normal lives in the spring – their city will not have to shut down to flood-fight.” Duane Perkins, St. Paul District lead structural engineer for the project and Breckenridge, Minnesota, native, said he understands what it’s like to deal with flooding. His family home was flooded by the Red River of the North in 1997. “The fear starts somewhere in December or January, when you start seeing heavy snowfalls,” he said. “People start getting worried about how the spring is going to look, whether or not there will be a flood.” He added that the project, once complete, will eliminate a lot of those concerns. “Not having to buy flood insurance, not having to volunteer to fill sandbags for weeks on end, and no longer worrying about the city flooding and people potentially losing their jobs,” he said. “That’s a whole other level of stress that hopefully will be taken care of with this project.” n



St. Paul District employees discuss safety considerations during a morning meeting at the construction site near Horace, North Dakota, July 27, 2020.





The devastating storm, which came with little warning, caused widespread power outages and extensive damage to trees and buildings in many communities across the state of Iowa. Following the storm, a disaster was declared and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stepped in to aid in the


eeks after an intense, fast-moving windstorm – called a derecho – ripped through portions of the Rock Island District producing winds estimated at 140 miles per hour, the sound of chainsaws buzzing could still be heard in the streets of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

USACE Emergency Operations personnel meet with FEMA representatives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to discuss derecho recovery efforts across the state.




state’s recovery efforts. In support of FEMA’s mission, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) was tasked to provide technical support and guidance for the debris clean-up process. “FEMA called on the Corps to assist with this disaster just because of the sheer size of the disaster,” said Cory Haberman, emergency management specialist at the Rock Island District and assistant team lead for the mission. “It was over 700 miles long and just as wide.” USACE’s involvement in the mission focused around assessing the amount of debris, including vegetative and construction and demolition debris, which is created when homes and buildings are damaged, said Haberman. These assessments were used by FEMA to ensure the state and local communities got the support they needed for recovery. Matt Tate, a natural disaster program manager for USACE, was one of two debris specialists called upon to assist with the mission. Tate, who works for the Mobile District, spends much of his time traveling for disaster support and has been involved with every disaster recovery effort handled by USACE since 2003. His experience with debris management operations made him a prime candidate for determining the extent of damage following this hurricane-like storm. “This is one of the worst vegetative debris missions I have seen in my career that was a non-tropical event,” said Tate. “The amount of vegetative debris is in the millions of yards – just here in Cedar Rapids alone, it’s enormous.”

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers debris subject-matter expert Herb Bullock performs a debris assessment after an intense, fast-moving windstorm – called a derecho – caused widespread damage to trees and buildings across the state of Iowa.

Measuring the amount of debris across the affected area is a process with which Tate and his fellow debris subject-matter expert, Herb Bullock, also from the Mobile District, are very familiar. “We arrive on site. We conduct an initial site assessment, or as some people commonly call it, a windshield survey,” said Tate. “We drive through the communities, the towns, even counties, cities, looking at debris on the curbside, looking at the homes that may have been impacted for vegetative and C and D debris – and by that, I mean construction and demolition debris.” Once the initial survey is complete, the team puts together a full assessment, which includes an estimated amount of debris that needs to be removed and processed. In the span of about two weeks, Tate and Bullock provided full assessments for 17 Iowa counties. After the debris specialists complete their assessments, it is up to FEMA and each state to determine the next course of action. In some situations, USACE gets more involved and assists with contracting debris removal services, Haberman explained. But in this case, the state and local communities were able to work with FEMA and the resources provided to get the job done. n 41




BY SUE CASSE AU, St. Louis District


he U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the state of Missouri to convert a local hotel for use as an alternate care facility (ACF) in response to the COVID19 pandemic. The St. Louis District provided technical assistance and management of Tarlton Corporation and its subcontractors as the team raced to finish the conversion to 120 patient rooms, four nurses’ stations, storage areas, a triage center, and meeting rooms spread over four floors within 79 hours of contract award. With an unprecedented pandemic straining health care systems across the country and around the world, FEMA began a two-pronged offensive for its American strategy: call upon the proven flexibility of USACE to design ACFs and have each state identify its potential needs and sites. Former USACE Commander Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite gave guidance to leadership across USACE to employ simple solutions for

St. Louis District mechanical engineer Maj. Daniel Strasser is pictured here during the conversion of a hotel in St. Louis County into an alternate care facility (ACF) for FEMA to receive patients from area hospitals. USACE partnered with FEMA and the state of Missouri to convert a local hotel into an ACF. The team completed the conversion of 120 patient rooms, four nurses’ stations, storage areas, a triage center, and meeting rooms spread over four floors within 79 hours of contract award.




U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Mark Toy, far right, Mississippi Valley Division commander, and Brig. Gen. Levon Cumpton, center, Missouri National Guard adjutant general, tour the alternate care facility site in St. Louis, Missouri, April 13, 2020. The site was developed to support health care facilities in the area.

complicated problems and then gave them the authority to move quickly with accountability to assemble partners to be aggressive, lean forward, and anticipate challenges. The model for St. Louis is: H2HC or Hotel to Health Care. In the St. Louis District, Commander Col. Bryan K. Sizemore identified his project management, design, and quality assurance teams while the Missouri governor dispatched the state’s National Guard to evaluate potential sites. Collaboration among the district’s design engineers and the medical community – the end users of this site – resulted in tailored design criteria that allowed for further flexibility. Sizemore understood this would draw on every talent in the district. “This was the opportunity to show the nation what we can do as partners and teammates,” he said. “I had every confidence that the St. Louis District team could meet this challenge, and that our partners would be an important part of an exceptional success.” Matt Vielhaber, a project manager in the St. Louis District, was selected to spearhead this project. “We had upwards of 70 people just on the Corps side supporting this mission, all the way from the inception through contracting and onto the conclusion of this

location,” said Vielhaber. “But the biggest role we had was to listen. We listened to what the end users were going to need. What will they see in the first 30 or 60 minutes with a patient? Does it change over the next week? We tried to give them what they would need to be successful.” With the site selected in the city of Florissant, in the northern portion of the St. Louis metropolitan area, a national modular design tailored to the local situation, and the design and construction procedures assembled within the district’s project management framework, it was time to select a construction partner. Tarlton Corporation was selected as general contractor, in a moment that seemed like divine intervention. Just hours before being awarded the contract, sibling owners Tracy Hart and Dirk Elsperman were mourning their father, Bob Elsperman, who had died in a St. Louis-area hospital of complications related to COVID-19 at age 83. It turned a time of loss into reaffirmation of purpose. Tarlton Executive VP and professional engineer John Doerr reflected on Bob Elsperman’s example through service to his company, his industry, and his country. Said Doerr, “He spent his teenage summers 43



Seen here is one of the rooms ready for use by FEMA and the state of Missouri should they need a hospital-quality site to receive overflow from area hospitals. Pictured left to right are Brig. Gen. Levon Cumpton, Missouri National Guard adjutant general; U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Mark Toy; St. Louis District Project Manager Matt Vielhaber; and St. Louis District Commander Col. Bryan Sizemore.

learning carpentry at Tarlton and graduated with a civil engineering degree from Purdue University, where he was in the Naval ROTC program. He served eight years in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, attaining the rank of captain, before a career in construction that spanned nearly 70 years. His belief in service to others was passed down to his three children and our company.” The USACE framework of “Site, Build, Supply, Staff” used for the hotel and arena conversions complements the FEMA response framework used in all emergency responses. The state provides the site, supplies, and staffing while USACE provides the time-sensitive design and build component. Making a hotel into a hospital-quality facility is no small task. Maj. Daniel Strasser, a mechanical engineer for the St. Louis District, brought his military and construction engineering skills to the roof on the first day to relocate exhaust fans away from air intake vents and install block supports and vibration dampeners to meet the more stringent requirements for the site. Quality contractors worked three and a half days with USACE technical experts around the clock to provide everything from electrical 44

and HVAC assessments and changes to carpet replacement and task lighting. The partnership grew quickly, and it was a team of professionals decidedly perfect for the mission at hand. For FEMA, it was further proof of their dedication to be prepared, responsive, and committed. For USACE, it was a call to apply its renowned mission to engineer solutions for the nation’s toughest challenges. Missouri’s governor, the state Emergency Management Agency, Health Services, National Guard, and Air National Guard units all stepped up to provide services and information for a complete mission scope. For Tarlton, the mission was supported by more than 100 highly skilled and thoughtful people from the design-build team and more than a dozen subcontractors. Every member of the team brought their A-game to benefit their families, friends, neighbors, and communities in this time of need – something each partner proudly provides every day. As Vielhaber said when asked by a reporter about the team on the ground: “Nobody’s too distant from the situation. This is not just a mission, but our community.” n



Southwest Louisiana homeowner and blue roof recipient Brennon Williams’ home before, as seen above, and after blue roof installation, as seen on next page. Williams’ home was one of 3,730 to receive a blue roof during Hurricane Laura recovery efforts.



he day I met Mr. Williams, I was looking for his house and drove past it, because I didn’t see it; all I saw were trees,” roofing quality assurance specialist George Hayes recalled. “Honestly, I wasn’t expecting anyone to be home. So many folks evacuated after the storm, I just figured no one was home. As I got closer to the door, I heard his little dog bark. I yelled, “Is anyone home?” and I saw a movement through the window. The door opened, and he drove his wheelchair out onto the front porch. My heart just sank.” At that moment, Hayes knew he needed to go above and beyond to help this man. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) supported southwest Louisiana with Hurricane Laura recovery efforts in more ways

than one. Still, the primary mission remained to provide temporary roofing for homeowners until more permanent repairs could be made. The home and roof must meet specific requirements to qualify for a blue roof. One of those requirements includes the roof not containing too much debris. USACE contractors can remove a branch here and there; however, if the removal requires heavy machinery, the homeowner must make other removal arrangements prior to “blue roofing” their home. That’s why Hayes went the extra mile to help a homeowner in need of additional assistance. “Mr. Williams is a severely disabled man, missing his left leg,” Hayes said. “I wasn’t sure what to think of the situation, but the look in his eyes told me everything I needed to know: He needed help.” 45


Hayes said he knew that under normal standard operating procedures, this would not be a house that USACE would take on due to the extreme damage to the home. “Mr. Williams explained that the National Guard had come after the storm and cut a path from his home to the road,” Hayes added. “I realized that if I was going to make my case for this man, I was going to have to push really hard.” Hayes reported the situation up to his chain of command, which ultimately landed in the hands of Andrew Auxier, a local government liaison in the area. Hayes said they felt a community group would be the way to go; that’s how a voluntary organization active in disaster called Samaritan’s Purse became involved. “In this case, once Samaritan’s Purse came into my mind, I simply went to their website to see where they were staging in our area,” Auxier said. “Turns out, they were staging about 3 miles away from where I was working. So, I just drove down to them and presented them with the case of Mr. Williams.” During this time, Hayes continued to contact Williams to make sure he was OK, even though Hayes had many other assessments to conduct. “I went by Mr. Williams’ house several times [over] the following days to check in on him and to assure him that he had not been forgotten,” Hayes said. “I told him we were working hard to get the trees removed and get a blue roof on his house.” After just a few days of coordinating, Samaritan’s Purse agreed to help and had the trees removed. “I later did the assessment on the roof, and we immediately pushed it to the top of the list,” Hayes said. “We had a contractor come out that night and install a blue roof.” 46

Hayes said he followed up the next morning to ensure the roof had been installed. Williams and Hayes spoke briefly, and Hayes said the homeowner was enormously grateful for the hard work USACE put in to help him. As for the rest of the Blue Roof Mission, Auxier said the recovery efforts in southwest Louisiana had been solid, with each deployment presenting unique issues and challenges. “We haven’t encountered anything to this point for which we couldn’t supply a solution,” he added. “It has to be said that the personnel on this deployment have been top shelf. If I’d had the chance to hand pick the people involved in this response, I couldn’t have done better.” Auxier said that this fact alone makes a huge difference in how a response unfolds. He thinks that’s the main reason they’ve experienced the success they have up to this point. “The wonderful thing about the Blue Roof Mission is that it buys people like Mr. Williams some time, and in turn, buys them some peace of mind,” Auxier said. “If you put yourself in their shoes, these are folks whose lives have been completely turned upside down. Their anxiety level is probably higher than it’s ever been, in a lot of cases. So, with Blue Roof, we’re able to make their home safe for habitation – they can get out of the shelter or hotel and go home.” Auxier said this program also buys homeowners some time until they can get a contractor to fix the roof permanently. “So basically, it gives them some sense of normalcy in an otherwise non-normal situation,” he added. “It’s a really good program, and it’s nice to see people like Mr. Williams benefit from it.” n





n employee with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District was recently named the 2020 “Levee Safety Professional of the Year” for USACE. Brad Arcement serves as a branch chief in the USACE Levee Safety Center and as a lead facilitator or co-facilitator on multiple large-scale levee projects. In his leadership role as the Vicksburg District’s risk-informed design coordinator, Arcement has helped engineers and technical experts across USACE scope risk assessments to support studies and implement risk-informed designs. Arcement has also supported the planning community of practice with the implementation of a risk-informed process. He has reviewed and advised on training materials, assigned agency technical review team members, and participated as an agency technical review team member, on multiple large planning studies. He also recently coordinated the development of policy guidance related to risk-informed planning and design. Arcement has worked closely with USACE leadership to share best practices with his colleagues. His technical skill and dedication have significantly enhanced the implementation of risk-informed design for USACE’s dam and levee safety programs. USACE employs more than 34,000 government civilian and 700 military personnel. Arcement was one of seven nominees considered for the “Levee Safety Professional of the Year” award within the entire organization. “We are extremely proud of Brad Arcement’s outstanding accomplishments as a levee safety professional,” said Vicksburg District Chief of engineering and construction Henry Dulaney. “His dedication, hard work, and expertise have contributed greatly to USACE’s mission, and he is absolutely deserving of this prestigious award.”

Brad Arcement, branch chief in the USACE Levee Safety Center.

A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Arcement earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Louisiana Tech University and a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, the Mississippi Engineering Society, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, and the Deep Foundation Institute. He is a registered professional engineer in the state of Mississippi. The Levee Safety Center, a national center of expertise, provides support to the USACE Levee Safety Program and leads the implementation of the congressionally mandated National Levee Safety Initiative. The center also collaborates with other agencies to develop national levee safety policy. The center is based in the Vicksburg District’s headquarters building in Vicksburg, Mississippi. n 47

SOUTH ATLANTIC DIVISION NAVIGATION • 5,337 miles of navigable channels • 1,268 miles of levees • 234.4 milllion tons of commerce • 49 dams • 32 locks • 10 major harbors • 32 deep-draft harbors • 121 shallow-draft harbors

ENVIRONMENTAL/REGULATION • Everglades ($9.5 billion)

RECREATION • 31 lakes (five of 10 most visited in the nation) • 26 visitor centers • 469 recreation sites • 199 boat ramps • 6,718 campsites HYDROELECTRIC POWER • 14 plants in five states • 3,131 megawatts capacity • Approximately 5,714 gigawatt-hours generated • Approximately $192 million in sales revenue

SOUTH ATLANTIC DIVISION 60 Forsyth St. SW Atlanta, GA 30303 (404) 562-5011 www.sad.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/USACESAD twitter.com/AtlantaCorps CHARLESTON DISTRICT 69A Hagood Ave. Charleston, SC 29403 (843) 329-8123 www.sac.usace.army.mil/ www.facebook.com/CharlestonCorps twitter.com/CharlestonCorps www.instagram.com/charlestoncorps/ www.youtube.com/user/USACESAC


WATER SUPPLY/CONSERVATION/STORAGE • 6.1 million acre-feet of conservation storage for municipal and industrial use, hydropower, fish and wildlife, water quality, navigation (this figure does not include Lake Okeechobee or the Water Conservation areas) • 85% of potable water for Raleigh, North Carolina – from Tony Young and Reallocation Study • 35% of potable water for Atlanta, Georgia FLOOD DAMAGE REDUCTION • 5% of flood storage nationwide • 14 dams and reservoirs • 303 miles of federal channels • 1,323 miles of local levees/channels MILITARY CONSTRUCTION/MANAGEMENT • Five major commands • 14 Army installations • 13 major Air Force bases • 32% Army construction (in the continental United States)

JACKSONVILLE DISTRICT 701 San Marco Blvd. Jacksonville, FL 32207 (904) 232-2568 www.saj.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/JacksonvilleDistrict twitter.com/JaxStrong www.youtube.com/JaxStrong www.flickr.com/people/jaxstrong MOBILE DISTRICT 109 Saint Joseph St. Mobile, AL 36602 (251) 690-2505 www.sam.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/USACEMOBILE twitter.com/USACEMobile www.flickr.com/photos/usacemobile/albums www.youtube.com/channel/UCt9ig7LmPjUrUAaSWWVH_Mw

SAVANNAH DISTRICT 100 W. Oglethorpe Ave. Savannah, GA 31401 (912) 652-5279 www.sas.usace.army.mil/ facebook.com/SavannahCorps twitter.com/SavannahCorps flickr.com/SavannahCorps youtube.com/SavannahCorps balancingthebasin.armylive.dodlive.mil/ (WordPress blog) WILMINGTON DISTRICT 69 Darlington Ave. Wilmington, NC 28403 (910) 251-4626 www.saw.usace.army.mil/ www.facebook.com/USACE.Wilmington twitter.com/USACEWilmington www.instagram.com/USACE_wilmington/ www.youtube.com/CORPSCONNECTION


Lt. Col. Rachel Honderd and Wes Wilson discuss the Charleston Peninsula Coastal Flood Risk Management Study and how it will tie into the infrastructure already in place.



fter an extended 60-day public review period, the draft report for the Charleston Peninsula Coastal Flood Risk Management Study has received nearly 500 comments from community members and stakeholders across the region. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Charleston District, which manages the three-year, $3 million, fully federally funded study, began investigating coastal storm risks on a low-lying stretch of the Charleston peninsula in October 2018. This area includes the region’s most robust medical district – resting on flood-prone, reclaimed marsh – and historic resources, dating back to some of the nation’s first settlements. The study was requested by the city of Charleston to augment the community’s proactive discussions about comprehensive, long-term

flood reduction strategies. USACE’s study, which integrates findings by the city’s Dutch Dialogues™ effort and considers other city actions and climate-related concerns, primarily examines storm surge and the risks of coastal storm events – both significant threats for the peninsula and within USACE’s jurisdictional scope. The initial comment period kicked off April 20 after the state and nation had already begun dealing with the uncertainty associated with the coronavirus. In addition to the already-expanded public comment period, the study team mounted a dynamic outreach strategy to help foster an engaging public review and keep the study on a congressionally mandated timeline. As part of the draft report release, the team designed and launched an interactive online presentation, walking viewers 49


through the report’s exhaustive analysis and presenting findings through geographic information system mapping. The study team dedicated hours each week to taking one-on-one calls with citizens, engaged more than 1,000 community members through joint virtual webinars with the city, and made print copies of the study’s draft report available for zero-contact pick up outside the district’s downtown office. The district received sweeping and constructive feedback across every facet of the Charleston community. Homeowners, teachers, realtors, engineers, local government officials, and historic and environmental groups all submitted feedback on the draft report. This input, as well as the study’s partnerships and ongoing collaboration with local, state, and federal agencies, are vital to USACE’s commitment to public service and ensure USACE develops a solution that is both effective and aligned with the interests of the community. 50

Left to right, Maj. Joe Owens, Lt. Col. Rachel Honderd, and Wes Wilson walk through Waterfront Park in downtown Charleston, discussing aspects of the Charleston Peninsula Coastal Flood Risk Management Study, which aims to provide a feasible solution to addressing coastal storm risk in the downtown area.

Over the next six months, the team will review all public input, further refine the study’s tentative measures, and conduct successive study analysis. These refinements, including those on storm surge wall alignment, effects on the surrounding communities, viewshed impacts, nonstructural elements, and environmental considerations will be available for comment during a second public review period for that purpose in early 2021. All submitted comments will be addressed in the final report. In the meantime, the district will update the frequently asked questions section on the study’s website to address the public’s top questions. n




The modified water deliveries to the Everglades National Park Project, known as “Mod Waters,” and the C-111 South Dade Project serve as the foundation for all of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Projects under construction by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Jacksonville District, including the largest and most


henever a structure is built, whether it’s a house or a pump station, or if it’s part of the vast and complex infrastructure that makes it possible for more than 8.1 million people to live in South Florida, the first step is always to build a strong foundation.

The 1-mile-long Tamiami Trail Bridge, west of Miami, Florida, was completed in 2013. The bridge is one of the critical features that will allow water to flow more naturally into Everglades National Park as part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ efforts to restore the Everglades and other ecosystems in South Florida.



complex ecosystem restoration project in history: the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). “Completing the infrastructure of these ‘foundation projects’ sets the stage for the future components of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan to come online,” said Col. Andrew Kelly, Jacksonville District commander. “We’ve got great momentum right now, and can move forward with other key construction projects, like the Central Everglades Planning Project [CEPP].” The combined goal of these foundation projects is to restore historic flow patterns and increase the flow of water into Everglades National Park, while providing flood mitigation for the Las Palmas community in the 8.5 Square Mile Area and flood protection for the agricultural areas in South Florida. “Construction of the Mod Waters and C-111 South Dade infrastructure was critical to ensure water sent to Everglades National Park stays in the park and doesn’t affect adjacent residential and agricultural properties,” said Donna George, the Jacksonville District project manager for Mod Waters. “These features have been in the works for many years,” said George. “In 2013, we completed the 1-mile bridge on the Tamiami Trail, which helped to re-establish one of the key historic flow-ways to Everglades National Park. This was one of the first steps in moving more water south through the Everglades ecosystem,” said George. The modified water deliveries to the Everglades National Park Project restores natural water flows to Shark River Slough, the main historic

flow-way through Everglades National Park. The project components include the 8.5 Square Mile Area; conveyance and seepage control features; and modifications to the Tamiami Trail, which included removing the fill road and bridging, a key section of the historic flowway. The Tamiami Trail had blocked the natural flow of water into the park since it was constructed more than 90 years ago. The C-111 South Dade Project was designed to control seepage out of Everglades National Park and bring additional water flow into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. The Combined Operational Plan (COP) will serve as the water management plan for the southern portion of the Everglades ecosystem, which includes Water Conservation Areas (WCAs) 3A and 3B, Everglades National Park, and the South Dade Conveyance System. The main objectives of the COP are to improve the timing, location, and volume of water deliveries into Everglades National Park; to maximize progress toward restoring historic hydrologic conditions in the Taylor Slough, Rocky Glades, and the eastern panhandle of Everglades National Park; and minimize the damaging freshwater flows to Manatee Bay and Barnes Sound through the S-197 structure, while increasing flows through Taylor Slough and the coastal creeks. Now that construction is complete for both Mod Waters and the C-111 South Dade Foundation project and the COP water management plan is being implemented, the stage is set for USACE to move forward with the construction of CERP projects such as the CEPP, one of the key projects in the overall effort to restore America’s Everglades. n



s the second-largest restoration project in the history of the National Park Service, the Mobile District’s restoration of Ship Island, a barrier island on the western tip of Gulf Islands National Seashore, 10 miles off the coast of Mississippi, is an important contribution to the preservation of one of the nation’s precious natural resources. Completed on May 8, 2020, the fourth phase of the Ship Island Restoration Project is part of an ongoing five-phase effort to not only restore and protect the valuable habitats of the island but enhance the resiliency of the Mississippi Sound and the nearby Mississippi coastline. With the completion of the fourth phase, it leaves the project with one last phase to complete, which calls for placing material on the

southern shoreline of what had, for a time, been dubbed as “East Ship Island.” During the initial phase of the project, the Mobile District filled a 3.5-mile-long breach initially created by the heavy damage from Hurricane Camille in 1969. The breach – known locally as the Camille Cut – had nearly healed itself naturally over the ensuing decades, but Hurricane Katrina ravaged the region and reopened the breach in 2005. In addition to closing the Camille Cut, the initial phase of the project reinforced the island by raising it to an elevation of approximately 5 feet above sea level. The project’s second phase raised the Camille Cut an additional 2 feet and widened the area an additional 500 feet to further strengthen the barrier island in the inevitable onslaught of future hurricanes. 53



In a separate phase of the project, dune vegetation was planted on the fill of what had been the Camille Cut, with another project phase placing additional sand on the north side of the former Camille Cut area to complete its filling to designed final width and elevation. “Completion of Phase 4 is a huge accomplishment that enables the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [USACE] and Mississippi to address additional requirements in the region,” said Col. Sebastien P. Joly, USACE Mobile District commander. “We’re excited to move into the final phase of the project.” At approximately $300 million, the Ship Island Restoration Project rivals USACE’s ongoing restoration project in the Florida Everglades and is a matter of pride and passion to the Mobile District team of engineering and environmental professionals, many of whom grew up along the Gulf Coast. The successful results of the project are also an invaluable resource to the state of Mississippi, as Ship Island and the other barrier islands in the region are the first line of defense to protect the Mississippi coastline against incoming hurricanes and tropical storms. 54

The Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program (MsCIP) was launched by the Mobile District in December 2005 in response to the major environmental damage to the Mississippi coastline and its barrier islands caused by Hurricane Katrina. The MsCIP mission is to build a more resilient coastal Mississippi through water resources-related projects throughout the state’s three coastal counties, addressing hurricane and storm damage reduction, salt water intrusion, shoreline erosion, and fish and wildlife preservation.

Justin McDonald, Mississippi Coastal Improvement Program manager, said the project is one of his most rewarding and a true success story. “It’s been one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever worked on and it’s a true success story of federal and state agency collaboration,” McDonald said. “This project could not have been successful without the expertise and support of other agencies such as the National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state of Mississippi, and many others. I’ve worked with some of the best and brightest in our profession to make this project a true success. It’s one that we are all proud of and will be happy to see it completed in the near future.”


“It is an incredible resource along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Together with the Mobile District, the Gulf Islands National Seashore is ensuring the island will continue to serve the nation for generations to come. “With the Ship Island Restoration Project now 90% completed, work on the project’s final phase began the week of July 20, 2020, and is scheduled to be finished in November 2020.” n


The National Park Service, which manages Ship Island as part of the major environmental and recreation area that makes up Gulf Islands National Seashore, expressed similar pleasure in partnering with USACE. “The National Park Service is proud to partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in restoring Ship Island,” said Brent Everitt, chief of communications, Gulf Islands National Seashore.

The MsCIP includes restorative work on Ship Island, seen here, with the pointer depicting the Camille Cut area.



n 2020, the deepening of the Savannah Harbor set a new precedent, with four dredges working in the harbor simultaneously. The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) record included two dredges keeping the channel at its current authorized depth of 42 feet, followed by two dredges taking the channel to its new

depth of 47 feet. The dredges have worked without disrupting the flow of commercial traffic to or from the Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal and other facilities along the river. The entire deepening project is approximately 62% complete. The inner harbor constitutes the final portion. The outer harbor, a roughly 55



20-mile-long channel extending into the Atlantic Ocean, had already been deepened to 49 feet at low tide. “The Savannah District continues to manage the intensely complicated task of coordinating dredge actions and placement of dredged material to ensure safety, compliance with contract requirements, and timeliness to reach our goal of completing this major deepening in January 2022,” said Col. Daniel H. Hibner, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Savannah District. “This effort ensures the harbor will improve the ability of Savannah to meet the demands of today and tomorrow.” With finely tuned coordination, each dredge and its associated support vessels must be at the right place at the right time. The two smaller maintenance dredges remove built-up shoaling and sediment, then move on, followed by the larger deepening dredges. All vessels must move aside whenever commercial vessels enter their area; in addition, workers must move pipelines leading from the dredges to 56

The dredge Charleston of Norfolk Dredging is shown deepening the inner harbor of the Savannah River May 28, 2020, as part of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. The project is on schedule for completion in January 2022. Garden City Terminal at the Port of Savannah is shown in the background.

the dredged material disposal areas. After commercial traffic passes, everything must return to continue the routine. All dredges work 24 hours a day, every day. “The cooperation we receive from GPA [Georgia Ports Authority], our dredging contractors, the harbor pilots, the Coast Guard, and others demonstrates the dedication this community has for deepening the Savannah Harbor,” Hibner said. The federal government and the state of Georgia share the cost of the deepening. The state’s Department of Transportation and the GPA serve as the state sponsors for the project.


container slot costs on the larger vessels accommodated by the deeper harbor will save U.S. producers and retailers $282 million per year in transportation expenses. The study found that every dollar spent on construction will yield $7.30 in benefits. Because the project will have such a large positive effect on the nation’s economy, the SHEP has received significant federal support. In the federal budget for fiscal year 2020, $130.3 million is devoted to the SHEP, while another $28.6 million in maintenance and operations funding is going toward Savannah River maintenance dredging. “I would like to thank Sen. David Perdue, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, and Congressman Buddy Carter for their work to ensure sufficient funding to improve this vital federal waterway,” said GPA Board Chairman Will McKnight. “I would also like to thank the many staff members across the Corps of Engineers, and particularly at the Savannah District. Their efforts are recognized and appreciated by Savannah’s entire maritime community.” n


“Georgia’s ports are among our greatest economic development assets and play a critical role in creating jobs and investment opportunities across the state,” said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. “Through the Port of Savannah, we feed the world with Georgia-grown products, and support manufacturing and retail activity across the country. The improvements we are making today through the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project will help ensure Georgia’s economic vitality for decades to come.” GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch said the progress surging ahead on the SHEP is good news for port users. “With the challenges our economy is facing, the savings a deeper harbor will mean for our customers can’t come soon enough,” Lynch said. “We’re excited to see so much work getting done as the Corps of Engineers coordinates these efforts.” The completed project will allow today’s larger container vessels to enter and leave the harbor during a longer tide window and with more cargo aboard. According to a USACE feasibility study, lower

The dredge Hampton Roads is shown maintaining a deepened channel in front of large cargo vessels docked at the Garden City Terminal of the Georgia Ports Authority, May 28, 2020.







hen the natural depth of water cannot accommodate today’s size of ships calling on the port, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is called in to make the harbor deeper by removing sediment from the riverbed. USACE has been dredging sediment from the Savannah River since the 19th century. A crucial requirement for maintaining a deepened harbor is having a designated placement area for sediment. USACE calls these designated areas “dredged material containment areas” (DMCAs). And since USACE must dredge miles of the Savannah River year after year, large containment areas are required. The Savannah Harbor’s DMCAs spread across 5,500 acres along the South Carolina side of the lower Savannah River. “The DMCAs are absolutely critical to the ongoing maintenance of the harbor,” said Savannah District Chief of Civil Works Mackie McIntosh. “Savannah is known for its heavy shoaling rates and heavy siltation rates in the inner harbor. So, we’ve been very fortunate to have all these DMCAs operating basically right along the channel, and that has allowed us to have shorter pumping distances and to actively manage the material.” All the dredged material from Fort Pulaski up to Garden City Terminal, roughly 20 miles of harbor, goes into the DMCAs. About 5 million cubic yards are dredged each year from the inner harbor channel at a cost of approximately $26 million. To put that into perspective, the average dump truck holds about 8 cubic yards, which would equate to 625,000 truckloads of material moving from the river into the DMCAs every year. Savannah District’s Chief of Navigation Jason O’Kane explained, “The overall idea is, you pump into it, it gets wet, you allow the water to run out of structures called weirs, or drainage pipes in the dike, and the remaining material sits until it can have new material placed on top of it or be used to raise the surrounding dike.” Dikes are the earthen walls surrounding the DCMAs that hold all the material until the water can be drained. In order to increase the capacity of a given site, the dike is raised roughly 6 feet at a time. In an average year, approximately $2 million is spent directly maintaining the placement area dikes, gates, roads, and flow-control structures. “Since you’re basically working with mush, you have to build it with a wide footprint. You have to give it settling time – you can’t load it too quickly with material – and it usually settles down to about 5 feet,” added O’Kane. The whole drying process in each of the seven DMCAs ideally lasts for about two years, which is why they’re spread across a total of approximately 5,500 acres. However, without the current DMCAs, USACE would have to seek out alternative methods of placement that could range from offshore disposal to designating a new DMCA.

A dredge discharge pipe feeds dredged material from the Savannah River into one of the dredged material containment areas (DMCAs) as part of the mission to keep the harbor at the authorized depth. USACE’s Savannah District maintains the DMCAs as part of regular maintenancedredging operations and channel-deepening operations associated with the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.


“If you’ve spent a lot of time in Savannah, particularly on the Georgia side of the river … [you know] that’s very valuable real estate, and there’s not a lot of it to choose from,” added McIntosh. “It’s either already developed or it’s low-lying wetlands, and if you impact wetlands, there are tremendous mitigation processes associated with that.” According to O’Kane, the current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permitting time for new placement sites is around three years for relatively easy-to-permit sands (large-grain sediment). He said the material dredged from the Savannah River is predominately silts and clays (fine-grain sediments), and permission from the resource agencies, such as the EPA, to place this material would be very difficult if not impossible due to the high environmental standards. Placing the material offshore comes with its own challenges. To do that, it would cost approximately five times the current dredging cost and would dramatically affect the USACE regional and national funding budget. “That would cause humongous negative regional impacts … commerce would cease the way we understand it in Savannah Harbor,” added O’Kane. Those negative impacts are constantly mitigated in the Savannah region through the district’s efforts of innovative dredged material placement and stewardship of the DMCAs’ dike systems. Through this stewardship, USACE ensures the DMCAs continue to be a vital piece of the whole puzzle that keeps Savannah’s – and the nation’s – economic engine running. n

Material in DMCA 12A dries as part of the ongoing maintenance-dredging operations and channel-deepening operations associated with the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP). The Savannah District’s mission is to keep the harbor at the authorized depth and deepen the shipping channel for SHEP.



his year, the Wilmington District kicked off multiple emergency supplemental Investigations and construction projects after funding was approved by the Trump administration in January 2020. Five studies and three construction projects were approved and fully funded under the Disaster Relief Act of 2019. “The process of applying for and receiving funding is a back-andforth discussion through the vertical chain and ends with approval from the Office of Management and Budget,” Jonathan Bingham, chief of Programs, stated. “A study is a proactive and necessary approach to potentially minimize or even avoid future impacts of significant and extreme weather events on the project area. Every Corps of Engineers district has projects they’d like funded, but as the projects make their

way up the vertical chain of approval, decisions occur until the final approved list is posted for the public to view. This process is very competitive, but essential to each district.” The three new-start construction projects are Carteret County (Bogue Banks) Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM), Princeville Flood Risk Management (FRM), and Surf City and North Topsail Beach CSRM. These areas have been significantly impacted by storms in recent years, including hurricanes Matthew and Florence. Each of these projects focuses on flood risk management and disaster relief. The three construction projects have been waiting for up to 10 years to receive initial construction funding, and now with full project funding, they are making progress to be completed. 59



“The long-term goal of these projects is to reduce damages to infrastructure during flooding events. Less [damage means] less to repair, and a lower post-storm cost for the public. The goal is to invest in protection with our non-federal sponsors before the storm arrives, in order to save in the long run,” Bingham said. “It is a great investment because it costs a lot more to repair damages after a storm as opposed to the cost of protecting these areas from possible damage.” The Surf City and North Topsail Beach CSRM and the Carteret County CSRM projects will complete initial construction, and then enter a 50-year periodic nourishment phase. The Princeville FRM construction project has national significance. The town of Princeville has a unique historic and cultural importance in American history as the first town in the United States founded by previously enslaved persons after the Civil War in 1885. The town suffers from severe flooding from the Tar River, which has caused a significant number of lost residences and homes. Feasibility studies were started for the Neuse, Tar-Pamlico, and Lumber River Basins, as well as for Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach. These studies are beneficial to the public as in-depth reports will be completed to solve flood risk management problems for the study areas and attempt to reduce risks associated with future flood events. The Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach feasibility studies are essential to preparing these hurricane-prone areas for future storms.

In the past 166 years, 37 hurricanes and 49 tropical storms have passed through the area. The direct and indirect impacts have caused substantial erosion and damage from winds, waves, and elevated water levels. These studies will help prevent the destruction of structures, homes, and businesses in the Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach areas. The remaining feasibility studies cover three North Carolina river basins that were severely affected by hurricanes within the last 25 years. The purpose of these studies is to pursue flood damage reduction measures that would help reduce the risk of future flooding. Two of the studies are being performed by other USACE districts: Tar-Pamlico River Basin by the Pittsburg District, and Lumber River Basin by the Charleston District. All of these fully funded emergency supplemental projects means that there is a lot of work that lies ahead for the Wilmington District. Typically, funding is broken into annual budgets and allocated each fiscal year, but each Disaster Relief Act of 2019 project was approved for full project funding at one time. This sets the expectation that completion of the projects will occur promptly, as no funding interruptions exist to slow the implementation of the project. This will require USACE to work quickly and efficiently, without affecting existing regular-funded work. Much visibility exists for this program, as congressional staff, project sponsors, the USACE vertical chain, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works are ready to complete these projects. n 61

SOUTHWESTERN DIVISION The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Southwestern Division (SWD) oversees hundreds of water resources development and military design and construction projects in all or parts of seven states: Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, and Louisiana. • Covers 2.3 million acres of public land and water, with an annual program in excess of $2 billion. • Includes three of the nation’s Top 10 ports. • Maintains more than 1,000 miles of navigation channel, including 28 Texas ports – 10 of which are among the nation’s Top 75. • Inland navigation mission includes two major waterways, a 423-mile portion of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, and the 442-mile McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS). • 18 locks and dams contribute to the MKARNS total of $8.5 billion in sales, which include commodities that are shipped on the system as well as sales in support of the navigation, $289 million in taxes, and 55,872 jobs to the national economy. • Region’s 74 multipurpose reservoirs provide 3.1 trillion gallons annually for municipal and industrial water supply and satisfy the demand for 1.8 million households and 4.5 million people.

FORT WORTH DISTRICT 819 Taylor St. Fort Worth, TX 76102 (817) 886-1306 www.swf.usace.army.mil/ facebook.com/usacefortworth/ twitter.com/usace_fortworth youtube.com/user/USACESWF GALVESTON DISTRICT 2000 Fort Point Rd. Galveston, Texas 77550 (409) 766-3004 www.swg.usace.army.mil facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict twitter.com/USACEgalveston youtube.com/user/ GalvestonDistrict


LITTLE ROCK DISTRICT 700 West Capitol Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 324-5551 www.swl.usace.army.mil facebook.com/littlerockusace twitter.com/#!/usacelittlerock youtube.com/user/USACELittleRock instagram.com/usace.littlerock/ TULSA DISTRICT Citiplex Towers 2488 E. 81st St. #188 Tulsa, OK 74137 (918) 669-7366 www.swt.usace.army.mil/ facebook.com/usacetulsa/ twitter.com/usacetulsa youtube.com/user/usacetulsa


SOUTHWESTERN DIVISION 1100 Commerce St., Suite 831 Dallas, TX 75242-1317 (469) 487-7107 www.swd.usace.army.mil facebook.com/swdusace/ twitter.com/usace_swd youtube.com/USACESWD

• Reservoirs hold about 33.2 million acre-feet of flood storage, or enough to fill 13,900 Dallas Cowboys stadiums. • Reservoirs have prevented more than $168 billion (as of FY 18) in damages over the life of the projects. • Second-largest producer of hydropower in USACE; 18 hydropower plants produce enough energy to power 339,135 homes – 10,800 kilowatt-hours – for one year. • Revenue from the power produced returned $150 million to the U.S. Treasury. • No. 1 in USACE in both recreation visitation and fees collected, with 54 million visitors at 87 operating projects located in five states, contributing $2.5 billion in visitor spending annually to the regional economy. • 19,000 jobs created within 30 miles of SWD lakes. • More than $20 million went to the U.S. Treasury from the division’s recreation fees in FY 2019. • Military missions include all or parts of five states, serving nine major Army and nine major Air Force installations, covering almost a half-million square miles. • Constructing 17 military construction projects valued at more than $759 million.


On March 24, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District switched the flow of water at Addicks Dam to new outlet control structures to improve and modernize Addicks and Barker dams. Public safety is the district’s top priority, and it continues to operate and improve its critical structures, which are especially vital during this time to maintain economic capacity.



f I had to boil it down to one word,” Brig. Gen. Christopher G. Beck, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Southwestern Division commander, said, “that word would be: aggressive.” Beck, who took command of the Southwestern Division, or SWD, in June 2020, spoke to the division staff of the work accomplished under SWD’s Hurricane Harvey Supplemental Program.

“You have done tremendous things to provide immediate risk reduction and recovery following Hurricane Harvey,” he said. “We must remain aggressive, meet our commitments, and build resiliency for years to come.” The $5.2 billion Supplemental Program was established after Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. The program 63



In 2018, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Southwestern Division established the $5.2 billion Hurricane Harvey Supplemental Program, funded by the 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act, to reduce the risk of flooding effects from severe storms. The program comprises 40 projects across three states – Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas – and will provide critical, enhanced flood risk reduction measures to the region. All work in the program is expected to be complete by 2027.

provides critical flood risk resiliency to the region by repairing damage from 2017 hurricanes and building additional flood risk reduction structures. The program comprises 40 projects across four states. These projects attack the problem of coastal resilience from three different angles: 1) protecting people from the devastating effects of major storms and enabling them to recover quickly when storms strike; 2) restoring and preserving environmental features that, along with man-made structures, help protect the coast from storm damage; and 3) repairing and improving key infrastructure to prevent major economic setback following future coastal storms. While there are projects in the Fort Worth, Little Rock, and Tulsa districts, the majority of the projects within the program are 64

found in SWD’s Galveston District, which is commanded by Col. Timothy Vail. Vail was raised in Texas and spent many summers along the Texas coast. His love for his home state is comparable to his passion to find long-term solutions for coastal risk. “I’ve lived through dozens of storms and witnessed the struggles of Texans to recover, but Harvey was something different,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of studying and planning during the last three years – bringing together some of the brightest minds from our district, the Corps, and the entire world to attack the problem. We are now at an inflection point where those studies and plans can be turned into projects and solutions.” Through the Supplemental Program, SWD is attacking the problem across four portfolios: flood control and coastal emergencies (FCCE); construction; operation and maintenance (O&M); and investigations. Projects within the FCCE portfolio repair critical dams and levees damaged following Hurricane Harvey. These repairs reduce future flood risk. The FCCE portfolio contains eight projects, all within the Galveston District, with an approximate cost of $51.8 million. The construction portfolio concentrates on flood risk reduction and coastal storm projects. The construction portfolio contains 12 projects, within the Fort Worth and Galveston districts, with an approximate cost of $4.8 billion. The O&M portfolio, like FCCE, focuses on repairs needed to already existing structures or features. O&M is the biggest portfolio in the Supplemental Program. Ninety-five percent of the projects within FCCE and O&M are, or will be, under construction by the end of 2020. The O&M portfolio contains projects within the Galveston, Little Rock, and Tulsa districts. The portfolio has an approximate cost of $53.5 million. The investigations portfolio supports studies designed to develop comprehensive solutions for flood risk management, both inland and along the coast. The investigations portfolio, with an approximate cost of $20.6 million, has six projects within the Fort Worth, Galveston, and Tulsa districts. “This is a massive program with massive benefits to the region,” said Jon Loxley, program manager for the Supplemental Program. “The program not only addresses the short-term repairs needed; it looks at comprehensive solutions that will provide risk reduction for generations to come.” Long-term benefits are not just a result of the projects within the program, but also derive from the partnerships that are formed between USACE and state, local, and regional government, industry, and private organizations to make the projects possible. “We could not do our job without our partners and sponsors,” Beck said. “They are the heartbeat of the community.” More than 45 partners or project sponsors are working alongside SWD to build resiliency and risk reduction measures in communities across the region. “It will take a lot of work and coordination with the public and with many different government and private organizations, but we have a comprehensive plan to improve coastal resilience, and I’m confident that over the next decade, our approach will protect the people, preserve the environment, and enable continued economic growth along America’s energy coast,” said Vail. n




BY R ANDY CEPHUS, For t Wor th District


he U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) remains prepared to assist the nation in a time of crisis to the very best of its capabilities. USACE is working with the Trump administration, Department of Defense (DOD), and other federal, state, and local partners in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. USACE is the federal government’s lead public works and engineering support agency and provides emergency operations with unique capabilities and experience in medical facilities construction.

The Fort Worth District site assessment team, under the direction of FEMA, worked in partnership with the Texas Army National Guard, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Texas Department of Emergency Management.

Part of the unified national response to emergencies, USACE deploys hundreds of people to provide technical engineering expertise and promote capacity development at home and abroad. 65



USACE’s Fort Worth District worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 6 and the DOD, as well as state and local partners, to address possible medical facility shortages across Texas. It also assembled field assessment teams tasked with evaluating existing sites for the possible conversion into alternate care facilities in Texas. “Our engineers and technical experts are trained and prepared for this type of emergency response and [have] assisted the nation and the state of Texas to the very best of our capabilities during this crisis. We continue to be available to help ensure our state has what it needs to fight the COVID19 pandemic,” said Col. Kenneth Reed, Fort Worth District commander. The Fort Worth District’s teams, at the request of FEMA and the state of Texas, evaluated facilities across the state in the early stages of the pandemic. “Our assessments were done under the direction of FEMA in support of the state. We worked in partnership with the Texas Army National Guard, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Texas Department of Emergency Management,” said team lead Matthew Sargent.

A team from USACE’s Fort Worth District conducted assessments in the Dallas/Fort Worth area in March for proposed COVID-19 alternate care facility sites under the direction of FEMA in support of the state of Texas.

In total, the team conducted approximately 21 site assessments in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. “During the assessments, we looked at each of those facilities to determine if they could be modified or converted into a health care facility to meet the needs of the state. We also assessed the facilities to see if they met the medical requirements for either COVID or non-COVID patient care,” said Sargent. USACE, as the federal government’s lead agency for public works and engineering, and given its extensive work and experience in building medical facilities for its military stakeholders, it is uniquely qualified to tackle this major engineering challenge. The Fort Worth District holds public safety as its top priority and continues to assist the state of Texas and the nation in this time of crisis to the very best of its capabilities. n


A 66

ccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the first confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) case in the United States was reported on Jan. 21, 2020. In late February, transmission of COVID-19 within the United

States rapidly increased. During mid-March, when transmission of the virus was widespread, Rick Vera, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Galveston District’s Geospatial Branch, received a call from the commander of the Army Geospatial Center in Alexandria,



The modeling map was prepared and maintained by the Geospatial Branch, Galveston District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Virginia, asking him to join the USACE COVID-19 Modeling Task Force. Vera agreed and selected Jason Jordan, a geographer with the Geospatial Branch, to join him in providing support. “The [Army] Geospatial Center told us that their biggest problem was that they had large amounts of data that they didn’t know what to do with,” said Vera. “USACE Commanding General Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite was looking for a way to visualize COVID-19 infection rates by creating this task force to analyze data from multiple sources and to combine multiple model outputs to better understand the infection trends. Our modeling predicted how COVID-19 could spread over time based on many factors to include social distancing rates.” Prior to assembly of the Modeling Task Force, Columbia University was the only organization attempting to develop models for the spread of COVID-19, but many organizations quickly developed models to analyze different aspects of the pandemic as it spread. USACE leadership wanted a better method of combining information from the various models to aid planning, particularly to support decision-making for development of alternate care facilities (ACFs) – USACE’s primary mission against the COVID-19 threat. USACE field operatives added information to the mix based

on their data collection at each potential ACF site and their own field of expertise. The Modeling Task Force consists of four geospatial engineers who combine data from various models to create hosted dashboards and analyses on USACE’s enterprise geographic information system (GIS) application. The task force gathered model outputs into an ensemble dashboard that allows users to view and analyze the information for their specific needs. These insights are now available to all of USACE, federal partners, and the public. “The models display active COVID-19 cases in the U.S. along with total deaths and other information. Things like a heat map that shows the predicted spread of COVID-19 help agencies predict the number of ventilators and intensive care unit beds that might be needed,” said Vera. “We also track the rate-of-spread, growth-rate, slope, days-of-improvement, and regression trends. The dashboard allows users to filter by state, division, district, metro area, office commuting area, and county, so decision-makers can zoom in on their area of interest.” The modeling has not only been used USACE-wide, but it has also been used by the CDC, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and is available to the public. USACE is now looking at how such GIS techniques can be used to support other missions such as emergency response to natural disasters. It is hoped that data available from each of USACE’s 52 districts can be combined into a USACE Common Operating Picture that allows for efficient allocation of resources during future emergencies. n 67



Workers perform maintenance on hydropower unit 5 at Ozark-Jeta Taylor Lock and Dam in Ozark, Arkansas.



ams capable of producing hydroelectric power are one of the wonders of the engineering world. They are massive Civil Works projects requiring years of planning, years of building, and tens of thousands of hours of refinement, management, and upkeep. As one of the last dams built along the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS), the Ozark-Jeta Taylor Lock and Dam located in Ozark, Arkansas, is one of the newer dams on the MKARNS. With construction starting in 1964, and with the final pieces of the power plant coming together as late as 1973, the dam is a youngster compared to


structures such as Norfork Dam in the White River Basin, which was born in the mid-1940s. Yet age is relative, and as the saying goes, “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.” While the concrete and steel foundation of the dam was as sound as ever, the same couldn’t be said of the five 20-megawatt slant-axis turbines that were included in the power plant’s construction. A unique design, and one seen in only three locations along the MKARNS, the slant-axis turbines are mounted at an angle or on a slope rather than the vertical position that is typical of most generating units. How the

turbine is mounted may seem like a small change, but it’s one that allows more generation to be packed into a smaller area. It also saves on construction and excavation, as less digging needs to occur to make room for the turbines. Slant-axis was and is considered an innovative take on the traditional design of a hydropower water turbine, but for the dams USACE operates that use them – Ozark, Webbers Falls, and Harry S. Truman in the Kansas City District – each has seen recurring problems with turbine or gearbox reliability. These problems and the subsequent loss of generation motivated Ozark, which is part of the Little Rock District, to kick off a rehabilitation effort to replace or improve the turbines in 2005. It’s a project that has seen a long run of bad luck, unexpected complications, and difficult engineering problems. The project started innocently enough. From 2005 to 2007, the contractor on the project conducted design and testing of a replacement turbine to be used in the dam. When the final tests were complete and work started on the ground, things got complicated. “In the scheme of the entire plant, we really went from one major rehab to many, many rehabs all along the way – some of them small, some of them large and complex,” said David Glorit, a project engineer for the Ozark project. “We’ve seen everything from teeth in the original gearboxes failing, to problems of the turbines cracking and leaking. Some of these issues are normal operational wear and tear for a hydropower operation and some aren’t.” Complicating all the work is the scale of the turbines themselves. These assemblies are not small, and they are buried in layers of concrete and steel from the surrounding dam. To get at the systems within requires lengthy dewatering and careful work extracting the hardware from its home. Like everything else in the project, this work is time consuming and detail oriented. Because of the scale and highly technical nature of the work, safety and cost are always an issue. It becomes vitally important to get everything done right the first time. It was as they were working through other parts of the rehab that the team made one of its most startling discoveries. Once the turbine was removed and engineers had an opportunity to inspect things more closely, they realized that there was something wrong with the water passages that direct water to the turbine. “The shaft of the turbine has to run center to this passage,” Glorit explained. “When we put a laser down the passages to check them, we discovered that they just weren’t centered.” This revelation likely explained some of the failures the team had been seeing with excessive run-out and other wear and tear issues with the turbines. The discovery was helpful, but how exactly do you center a tunnel of concrete and steel more than 26 feet in diameter? The solution, in this case, was to develop a massive reverse lathe/ boring bar to go through the slow and exacting work of scraping out and milling the water passage. It was a huge task – and one that they found themselves having to do five more times. “We checked the water passages for each turbine and found them all to be out of true,” Glorit said. “That’s not something you expect to see in your operations and maintenance budget.” Today, more than a decade after the original uplift project was put underway, things are coming together. The team at the Ozark project, along with



Workers inspect the gearbox on one of the slant-axis hydropower turbines as part of the powerhouse rehabilitation. The slant-axis turbines, which provide numerous advantages and cost savings, have had a troubled history with USACE dams.

members of the Tulsa District, have managed to turn years of delay into an incredible wealth of lessons learned in how to work with and manage a slant-axis turbine. The knowledge they’ve gained and documented over the years is finally bearing fruit as the team has moved into a testing phase where each of the new generating units is put through a 100-day commercial test to validate their ability to provide reliable power generation. “We’ve been almost done for a while now,” said Glorit. “Once we’re through the testing-and-validation phase, the units will be back online and producing as they should.” While the team is excited to see the end of the road for the rehab, they know that their work isn’t done. There are still years of maintenance and upkeep ahead to ensure the safe and efficient management of the dam and that Ozark-Jeta Taylor will continue to play its part on the MKARNS, ensuring a navigable channel and producing inexpensive hydropower – both unique capabilities of hydropower dams, and two of the prime reasons they provide such solid value to the nation. n 69






he U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Tulsa District assembled field assessment teams tasked with evaluating 29 existing sites for possible conversion into alternate care facilities (ACFs) in Oklahoma. The district’s teams, working on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mission assignments requested by the state of Oklahoma, evaluated facilities all across the state. After the assessments of 25 arenas and four hotel-style structures, Tulsa District engineering teams executed the planning, assessment, design, and construction missions supporting the state’s requests for three ACFs. “We were able to utilize a contracting tool that facilitated the rapid mobilization of the contractor within two days and worked 24-hour-a-day operations to complete the hospital [COVID-19] room conversions within two weeks or less construction time. This


USACE’s Tulsa District alternate care facility site assessment team members assess a facility during a site visit on March 28, 2020. The district assembled field assessment teams tasked with evaluating existing sites for possible conversion into alternate care facilities in Oklahoma. USACE is the federal government’s lead public works and engineering support agency and, given its extensive work in building medical facilities for its military stakeholders, is uniquely qualified to tackle this engineering challenge.

provided a surge capacity across the state to ensure needs are met should an outbreak occur that would overwhelm the local hospitals’ capabilities. Our dedicated team, though tired, were able to meet the mission on time,” stated Tulsa District Program Manager Patrick Beard. In all, room for 243 additional hospital beds was made available for COVID-19 treatment at three separate locations in the state.



Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, left, along with Tulsa District administrative contracting officer Byron Floyd, previews construction efforts of an alternate care facility (ACF) at Oklahoma State University (OSU) Medical Center in Tulsa, May 1, 2020. While working on a FEMA mission assignment at the request of the state of Oklahoma, the Tulsa District executed planning, assessment, design, and construction missions supporting requests for two ACFs. Four floors of the OSU Medical Center were remodeled, providing an additional 116 beds, and the Integris Baptist Portland Campus in Oklahoma City provided an additional 110 beds. USACE has the capability and expertise to adjust ACF designs between COVID and non-COVID treatment facilities, depending on states’ needs for specific site locations. The estimated 14-day construction process began at both facilities on April 27, 2020.

Construction on two of the facilities in Oklahoma’s larger metro areas were completed in early May, with the third facility in the Oklahoma panhandle completed in early June. “The renovations were a deliberate measure within the state of Oklahoma’s Surge Capacity Plan, facilitating an increased capacity to treat COVID-19 patients. The Tulsa District was ready and able to provide support to the nation and the state of

Oklahoma,” stated Tulsa District Emergency Management Chief Bill Smiley. “This support serves as a reminder of our capacity to work together with a common goal towards a mission of common good.” Each of the three construction efforts took approximately 14 days to complete and Tulsa District awarded approximately $9.675 million for construction. n 71



USACE Tulsa District maintenance crews working on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System clean debris from the downstream side of the Webbers Falls powerhouse, May 12, 2020. Removing the debris helps ensure maximum efficiency of the power unit’s discharge as water passes through during power production. While much of the district was adhering to protective pandemic protocols, crews like these were still at work performing their duties to support the nation’s vital infrastructure.



he McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) is a 445-mile-long navigation channel beginning at the confluence of the White and Mississippi rivers then crossing the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma, terminating at the Port of Catoosa, near Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tulsa District operates five of the 18 locks and dams that make up this economically vital navigation system. In May 2019, historic rainfall throughout northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas presented many challenges for the U.S. Army Corps of


Engineers Tulsa District. Thirteen of the district’s reservoirs in Kansas and Oklahoma reached new pools of record. Water levels on the MKARNS at Three Forks near the Port of Muskogee made a historic rise, reaching approximately 24 feet above normal. Levels at this point were so high on the MKARNS that Tulsa District locks 14, 17, and 18 were completely inundated and submerged. At one point, two barges broke loose from their moorings and drifted downstream, coming to a stop and resting only after striking the dam at Webbers Falls Lock and Dam 16. After the flood waters receded, the Tulsa District immediately went to work cleaning up, removing debris, and clearing the channel for barge traffic to once again resume. “There was 1.5 million cubic yards of dredge material identified within our navigation channel in [the district’s] area of responsibility following the 2019 flood event. To date, we have removed 1.1 million cubic yards [of dredge material],” stated Tulsa District Navigation Project Manager Rodney Beard. According to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Waterways Division 2018 report, the total MKARNS impact on sales, which include commodities that are shipped on the system as well as sales in support of the navigation, is $8.525 billion nationwide, with the Oklahoma MKARNS segment nationally contributing $4.077 billion. The 2018 report also noted that the system as a whole transported 11.9 million tons of cargo, with a total value of $3.5 billion, on the Oklahoma portion of the MKARNS, accounting for 6.2 million tons of cargo valued at $2.2 billion. n




BY STACE Y REESE, Tulsa District

Construction is nearing completion on the two-bay multipurpose hangar at Tinker Air Force Base (AFB) near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This hangar, when finished, will be part of the maintenance facility for the Air Force’s new KC-46A Pegasus 158-acre campus, which will support Tinker AFB’s long-term sustainment and depot maintenance of the new aircraft, eventually leading to the creation of an estimated 1,300 jobs.


hat was once an abandoned railyard is now a complex construction site with multiple projects on Tinker Air Force Base (AFB) near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The site is home to the multiphase project for the main maintenance facility of the KC-46A, the Air Force’s newest aerial refueling tank. The first hangar on this 158-acre campus, which will house the maintenance hub for the KC-46A Pegasus, was completed in October 2019. Construction workers first broke ground on the new hangar complex in 2016. The hangar is the first of 14 dock spaces for the KC-46. “Although [COVID-19] has halted many things in our lives, construction at the KC-46A site has continued,” said project engineer Brandi Bruens, who also praised the dedicated on-site quality assurance staff for their work on the project. The two-bay multipurpose maintenance hangar is approximately 95% complete. Construction of the hangar is on track to be completed in mid-January 2021. “The Central Oklahoma Area Office already has a heavy workload at 40-plus projects valued at $600 million across four installations,” said

Tulsa District area engineer Daniel de Robles. “Add to that one-of-a-kind complex facilities for a brand-new aircraft, all under high-level visibility due to the critical nature of the mission, and if that wasn’t challenging enough, do it all in the middle of a global pandemic. Most people would fold under that kind of pressure. Instead, our team has risen to the occasion. “Extended days and weekend work in record heat, three straight days of 1 a.m. airfield concrete placements – whatever it takes, the team is all in,” said de Robles. “Our quality assurance reps and technical support have taken on an even bigger role as the eyes and ears on-site for the rest of the team that has had to work from home.” Construction of the campus is expected to continue through 2029. At completion, the 158-acre campus will provide eight hangars, ramp infrastructure, software innovation labs, and engine test facilities. The Pegasus eventually will replace the KC-135, another refueling tanker that has a maintenance mission at Tinker AFB. The KC-46, which is constructed on a Boeing 767 airframe, is taller, longer, and has a larger wingspan than that of the KC-135, necessitating the need for new hangars and facilities for depot maintenance. n 73



he Northwestern Division (NWD) is affectionately known as the “Lewis and Clark Division” in recognition of the region the famous expedition traveled through in 180506 during its storied trek across the continent. The territory explored by Lewis and Clark remains awesome in its geographical breadth, and its economic, political, and cultural diversity. Nearly 2,000 miles wide, present-day Northwestern Division touches all or parts of 14 states, 48 congressional districts, and more than 90 sovereign tribal nations, making it the largest of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) nine divisions. Two of the country’s longest rivers – the Missouri and Columbia – drain nearly 1 million square miles within its boundaries that stretch from Seattle, Washington, to St. Louis, Missouri. Its Civil Works, Military, and Environmental programs surpass $3 billion annually. For purposes of geographical balance, regional interface, and similarity of issues, NWD maintains headquarters offices in Portland, Oregon, with a regional office in Omaha, Nebraska. The division commander directs all USACE activities in this area by providing direction and guidance for five subordinate district offices, each headed by a military officer and military deputy, located in Kansas City, Missouri; Omaha, Nebraska; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle and Walla Walla, Washington. The division office also oversees the upward coordination of technical policy and budgetary issues that cross district boundaries and interfaces with other federal and state agencies, congressional leaders, key stakeholders, and international commissions.


The Northwestern Division, as with all other USACE divisions, manages its districts’ civil works activities based on river basins rather than state boundaries. Its primary Civil Works missions encompass flood damage reduction, navigation, hydropower, fish and wildlife, water quality, irrigation, recreation, and disaster response. Within its jurisdiction are 77 dams and reservoirs, 29 hydropower plants, and 1,600 miles of navigable channels. Military boundaries, in contrast, are organized along state lines. Major Military programs include providing design and construction support to 55 major Army and Air Force installations and dozens of smaller ones. The division also manages more than 2 million acres of military real estate for the Department of Defense. An Environmental, Interagency and International Services program provides environmental restoration and clean up of hazardous, toxic, and radioactive sites for the military, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies. In recent years, NWD volunteers have stepped to the forefront in support of military units in Iraq and Afghanistan, lending their skills to the reconstruction efforts. While USACE districts have Civil Works and Military missions, they are frequently distinguished by the nature and amount of civil or military work they perform. In the Northwestern Division, the districts that have a preponderance of military and environmental work are Kansas City, Omaha, and Seattle. The Portland and Walla Walla districts tend to have larger Civil Works programs. In all cases and from all quarters, the five NWD districts consistently achieve top marks for mission execution, customer satisfaction, and quality products.

NORTHWESTERN DIVISION P.O. Box 2870 Portland, OR 97208-2870 cenwd-pa@usace.army.mil (503) 808-3800 www.nwd.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/NWDUSACE www.twitter.com/NWDUSACE www.dvidshub.net/unit/usace-nwd

OMAHA DISTRICT 1616 Capitol Ave., Ste. 946 Omaha, NE 68102 Omaha.USACE-PA@usace.army.mil (402) 995-2417 www.nwo.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/OmahaUSACE www.twitter.com/OmahaUSACE www.youtube.com/OmahaUSACE

KANSAS CITY DISTRICT 601 E. 12th St. Kansas City, MO 64106-2896 dll-nwk-pa@usace.army.mil (816) 389-2000 www.nwk.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/usace.kcd www.twitter.com/kc_usace

PORTLAND DISTRICT P.O. Box 2946 Portland, OR 97208-2946 cenwp-pa@usace.army.mil (503) 808-4510 www.nwp.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/PortlandCorps www.twitter.com/PortlandCorps www.dvidshub.net/unit/USACE-NWP

SEATTLE DISTRICT P.O. Box 3755 Seattle, WA 98124 paoteam@nws02.usace.army.mil (206) 764-3750 www.nws.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/USACENWS/ www.twitter.com/seattledistrict WALLA WALLA DISTRICT 201 N. Third Ave. Walla Walla, WA 99362-1876 cenww-pa@usace.army.mil (509) 527-7020 www.nww.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/WallaWallaUSACE www.twitter.com/WallaWallaUSACE www.youtube.com/wallawallausace



Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (left) and Northwestern Division Commander Brig. Gen. D. Peter Helmlinger discuss the importance of having readily available bed space for surges in COVID-19 cases. The two met in Kalispell, Montana, on May 21, 2020, to inspect the progress of the alternate care facility there. Omaha District built out the 100-bed facility in 13 days.




t has been the motto of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for more than 200 years, but its meaning – Let Us Try – took on even greater symbolism when the call went out in March 2020 for USACE divisions and districts to spread out across the country to locate and assess possible sites for alternate care facilities (ACFs) in the face of the expanding COVID-19 pandemic. The Northwestern Division (NWD) quickly deployed teams across 11 states, working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state emergency management offices, to complete their missions. The division teams had a single focus and a defined mission; the territory they needed to cover, expansive. Never before did Essayons better define the effort. They were determined not to simply “try,” but to succeed.

“When it was announced the Corps of Engineers would be assigned the mission to look for possible care facilities, we knew we would have a major challenge on our hands,” said John Leighow, chief of the Northwestern Division Readiness and Contingency Operations office. “Northwestern Division covers nearly one-quarter of the continental United States, much of it rural and with communities that might not be ready to handle the crisis that appeared to be unfolding in front of our eyes. Across our five districts, we called for all hands on deck.” From the Seattle District’s first assessment on March 25 at CenturyLink Field to April 23, when the Omaha District conducted the last assessment in North Platte, Nebraska, NWD’s five districts had completed 167 individual assessments, plus 26 additional 75

NORTHWESTERN DIVISION assessments in Colorado in support of the South Pacific Division. Of those 167 assessments, the division determined 114 sites were suitable as ACF build outs. To collect and make sense of all the incoming information, NWD staff developed a Common Operating Portal to help Northwestern Division Commander Brig. Gen. D. Peter Helmlinger see the operating environment and know the location and status of every FEMAassigned mission, which, in turn, allowed him to clearly describe the division’s efforts to higher headquarters. “We knew quality information would be critical to our success,” Helmlinger stated. “Our people quickly realized we needed to come up with a means to collect and process a huge amount of information to facilitate making timely decisions, and to send back to our headquarters on a daily basis. In the end, they created a dynamic system where we could see the data for a specific site or for the entire region, and balance everything with what we understood to be the real-time COVID numbers and projections. It was quite impressive.” Assessing possible sites was just the beginning of this mission. Next came constructing them. Multiple approaches were taken to determine where, how, and by whom the construction would take place. That decision rested with the states and FEMA. As FEMA and a state identified each mission, the Northwestern Division was ready to respond. Seattle District was asked to support the first construction mission – an Army field hospital at CenturyLink Field. By March 29, the Army’s 627th Hospital Center from Fort Carson, Colorado, was on-site setting up a 250-bed, fully self-contained hospital, complete with laboratories and surgical space, inside the event center. The Kansas City District, working with St. Louis District and the state of Missouri, completed USACE’s first-ever hotel-to-hospital conversion to provide 120 patient rooms, four nurses’ stations, storage areas, a triage center, and meeting rooms for the St. Louis area. The work was completed 79 hours after the contract was awarded.

In Colorado, the Omaha District further supported the Albuquerque District by converting the Colorado Convention Center and a large horse arena at the Larimer County Fairgrounds into ACFs, providing the state with more than 2,200 beds. Portland District worked with the state of Oregon to convert a former Veterans Health Administration clinic in Eugene into a 42-bed ACF. Northwestern Division’s last mission saw Omaha District build out the third floor of the Kalispell Regional Medical Center in Kalispell, Montana, to accomodate 100 non-acute, non-COVID patients, freeing up space in the main hospital’s critical care facilities. Construction began on May 11 and was completed 13 days later. Leighow, the readiness chief, expressed his appreciation for everyone’s efforts to conduct the assessments and construct the sites in very short periods of time. He stated while the sites have not been largely used – to date, only the Eugene and St. Louis facilities received patients – he noted they can remain in place for use in the future should the need arise. The state of Oregon continues to care for patients at the Eugene site. “Thankfully, the need to [use] these facilities did not transpire,” Leighow said. “However, the states are poised to quickly accept patients, if needed in the future, and we can quickly respond if additional sites are required.” Helmlinger also is thankful more people weren’t admitted to the facilities, and acknowledged the speed and focus of the assessment and construction teams, as well as others. “The effort on the part of our teams has been outstanding. Additionally, partnerships and common purpose have been extremely important in this endeavor,” said Helmlinger. “This was truly a team effort here, and we had to have everybody aligned to bring it in on time. “We could not have been successful without the support of FEMA, as well as the states and tribes, facility owners, the Corps of Engineers, and our construction contractors,” he said. n



onstruction on the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) new campus in north St. Louis “is progressing without delays despite the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Col. Bill Hannan, commander of the Kansas City District, which serves as the construction agent for the project.

The $700 million-plus project will provide a new western headquarters for NGA. Its mission is to provide timely, relevant, and accurate geospatial intelligence in support of national security. Anyone who sails a U.S. ship, flies a U.S. aircraft, makes national policy decisions, fights wars, locates targets, or responds to natural disasters, relies on the NGA; it enables 77



Construction of the new western headquarters for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in St. Louis continued without delay in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The project, estimated at more than $700 million, will be completed by 2023, with occupancy expected in 2025.

all of these critical actions, and shapes decisions that affect the world through the indispensable discipline of geospatial intelligence. The building is slated to be completed in 2023, with information technology installation in 2024 and a move-in date of 2025. Much of the construction work now is preparing the ground for building the foundation and is outdoors, which lends a natural social-distancing aspect. “We are taking deliberate measures to keep our workforce safe and continue construction in a safe manner that has proven effective,” said Hannan. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) on-site project manager is Gene Morisani. He commended the safety measures taken by McCarthy Building Company and HITT Contracting, whose joint venture was awarded the design-build contract in March 2019. He noted their focus on providing protective equipment, hand-washing stations, emphasis on face coverings, the commitment of the contractors and subcontractors, and additional sanitation measures as keys to the site’s safety. “We do most of our coordination meetings virtually, emphasize hand-washing, and make sure to use our protective equipment when people are nearer to each other,” said Morisani.

EMPHASIS ON MINORITY HIRING GOALS From the project’s award, the McCarthy-HITT team, as designbuild contractor, adopted the city of St. Louis Executive Order 28, which exceeds standard requirements and underscores USACE’s 78 78

commitment to ensure opportunities for local minority- and womenowned businesses and workers. The NGA campus’ construction goals are to include 25% minority-owned and 5% woman-owned businesses for subcontractor participation; and 15% minority and greater than 5% female for the individual workforce participation. To achieve these goals, McCarthy-HITT developed and implemented a project-specific inclusion plan that provides a customized, structured framework and continuously monitors progress. In addition, a local minority-owned hiring consulting firm has been retained. Joint efforts to date have included multiple outreach events, job fairs, and ongoing collaboration with community and workforce development organizations. Additional events are currently being planned. Hannan said that attracting a qualified workforce for the construction of the facility is imperative for the project. “That’s how they are successful,” he said. Hannan encouraged local citizens to participate in construction job fairs. The Kansas City District, with its partners, have hosted four construction job fairs in St. Louis to attract some of that workforce, and there will be plans for more. “As you continue to see those fairs, come on out, see what’s available,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for you in our region. “We are looking forward to a successful project for the St. Louis region and are committed to doing everything possible to keep the community informed and involved in all opportunities.” n


Engineers from the Omaha District evaluate repairs to the Salt Creek Levee system in Lincoln, Nebraska, June 3, 2020. The firm-fixed-priced contract for the levee repairs, near Deadman’s Run, was advertised to the prequalified sources list.



he Omaha District has continued to lead the way in using its various contracting programs to accomplish its mission in a continuously changing environment. In fiscal year 2018, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) completed 37 purchases on the Unison Marketplace with the reverse auctioning tool. “The Unison Marketplace is an online marketplace that assists buyers in purchasing goods and services needed to fulfill

procurement strategies,” said David Neal, contracting officer, Omaha District. “There are currently 75 federal agencies and many other public and private organizations that are currently buying on the Unison Marketplace.” The Unison Marketplace allows one marketplace to handle all actions with a simplified request-for-quote process. It currently has a seller network of more than 114,000 vendors, with dedicated account management for every buyer and a simplified buy-posting process. 79

NORTHWESTERN DIVISION The no-risk service-fee model allows for no upfront investment, license fees, or maintenance costs. Neal said, “The tool has been in place for a while and has shown a benefit to the Army to include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The tool is more aligned with our Civil Branch and I could see where it would be able to streamline a lot of small dollar purchases, especially for our project offices at the dam sites.” During recovery operations for the 2019 Missouri River Basin flood, which hit parts of Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri, the Omaha District was the first in all of USACE history to use the prequalified sources list (PSL) for small projects, providing flood response to more than 30 levee repair contracts. “Prequalified sources list is a group of contractors who have been vetted by Omaha District to bid on levee repair contracts after the 2019 flood,” said Lee McCormick, Civil Works Branch chief, Omaha District. “PSL is also known as prequalified bidding. Right now, there are 35 contractors on the PSL for levee repairs. These are the only contractors who can compete for these specific contracts.” New contractors can be added to the PSL if they submit their qualifications. “To be clear, PSL is not being used for all of our levee repair contracts,” Lee said. “PSL is used for those contracts that are well-enough defined that potential bidders and USACE can estimate a firm fixed price for the work that is in the specification.

They are considered to be a success because they streamline the bidding process from 70 days to about 35 days.” Currently, the PSL is being used for levee repairs on the Platte River, Salt Creek, Papillion Creek, and Elkhorn River tributaries, and sometimes on the Missouri River. Toward the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Omaha District, along with Federal Emergency Management Agency, state, and local officials in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska conducted site assessments for potential locations of alternate care facilities (ACFs). There were three ACFs built using rapid disaster and infrastructure (RDI) contracts in Kalispell, Montana, and Denver and Loveland, Colorado. An RDI contract allows the Omaha District to award contracts to a pool of unrestricted contractors who are preselected specifically for emergency situations. “For COVID-19, the rapid disaster and infrastructure contract allowed us to do time-sensitive actions,” said Jeffrey Wyant, cost price analyst, Omaha District. “These contracts allowed us to select contractors who we already knew had the accounting capabilities to track cost and the resources to respond quickly and mobilize within a few days. Since we have worked with these contractors before, it eliminated the learning curve, allowing us to be very efficient when we got to the field.” n



hen the forecast for the bomb cyclone that hit the Great Plains in mid-March 2019 was first issued, the National Weather Service warned of the storm’s potential but, exactly where it would track was unknown. The storm unleashed treacherous flooding with a devastating impact on the lower Missouri River Basin. Snow and heavy rainfall pelted the region which still had several feet of snow on the ground. With the ground still deeply frozen, the resulting precipitation had nowhere to go except surrounding waterways. The Omaha and Kansas City districts were about to experience historic flooding. Dozens upon dozens of river gauges on the Missouri River and its tributaries, from South Dakota downstream to St. Louis, set new stage records. Amplifying matters was that nearly all these new records were on stretches of river downstream of Omaha District’s Gavins Point Dam (near Yankton, South Dakota), the last


dam on the Missouri River. That meant that all the water flowed throughout the basin without the ability to regulate the flows. At one point, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) stopped the flow of the Missouri River at the Fort Randall Dam, South Dakota, (the last of the dams on the Missouri River with significant flood storage space) to keep additional water from entering the system. Within hours, the Omaha District, led by its Readiness Branch, began sending flood-fighting materials and providing assistance to communities within harm’s way. From aerial and on-site surveillance, it quickly became apparent that the flooding in 2019 was going to be significant. “For the first couple of days, the EOC [emergency operations center] really started spinning up and it was a really high-energy, high-stress environment. We brought in the CMT (crisis management team), we augmented the EOC with some other folks to help us answer the dozens of requests for assistance we were getting



The March 2019 “bomb cyclone” caused flooding up and down the Missouri River and its tributaries that overtopped levee systems and led to massive flooding throughout the district, including shutting down and covering portions of Interstate 29 in Iowa, as seen here.

from communities up and down the lower Missouri River. There was a lot of information flying around and it just was a really intense really high, high energy time,” said Matt Krajewski, chief, Readiness Branch. The levees were performing as designed. But the water continued to rise; the Platte River carried water from several Nebraska streams straight to the Missouri River and water started flowing over the tops of levees, which began to compromise the entire levee system. Communities, families, and businesses along the Missouri River and its tributaries were devastated by the flooding. In the Omaha District area of responsibility, more than 350 miles

of infrastructure along 60 different levee and channel systems across five states were damaged during the multiple record setting flood events (March, June, and September) in 2019. These damages included nearly 50 breaches in levee systems, 32 of which were on levee systems active in the PL 84-99 (Flood Control and Coastal Emergency Act) program. Some breaches measured as large as 2,000 feet long, with a staggering total repair estimate of more than $1 billion. “It was devastating. To see the levees, watching the water flow over the levees for more than three days and seeing the massive destruction, it was heartbreaking,” said Omaha District Commander Col. John Hudson. “I could see the communities, the 81


farms, the livelihoods, the homes being destroyed, and it was, it was really sad to see. I knew right then and there we had a long road ahead to help these communities recover.” Farther downstream in the Kansas City District’s area of responsibility the situation was just as grim. Sixty-five levee systems were overtopped, with 45 of those subsequently being breached. Several more levee systems sustained less severe damage, such as erosion and sod kill. Levees along the Missouri River, both in Kansas and Missouri, accounted for the highest total number of damaged levees. Several levees along the Grand River in Missouri and levees in central Kansas sustained damage as well. “The magnitude and duration of the flooding was historic to say the least,” said Jud Kneuvean, chief, Kansas City District Readiness Branch. “There was a combination of events, starting with record-breaking runoff in March, followed by record-breaking rainfall in May that caused this to be the longest and costliest flood event in the district’s history. Our EOC was activated on March 13, 2019, and didn’t return to normal operations until the last river gauge fell below flood stage in mid-December 2019. It was the longest EOC activation in the district’s history, lasting 279 days.” To lead the way in the response-and-restoration efforts, the Omaha Systems Restoration Team was quickly assembled. Experts from engineering, construction, project management, and contracting were brought together to tackle the daunting task of restoring the tattered levee systems. “It was catastrophic and lasted a very short period, but the damages as a result of that flood event, were substantially worse than we saw in 2011,” said Ted Streckfuss, Omaha District deputy district engineer for Project Management. “As a result, we’ve been working very hard to bring that system back into full operations since then.” The team rolled up their sleeves and dived into work right away, working long hours day after day, for weeks, months on end, to restore not only the levees that were damaged, but also to help the communities affected by the flooding to begin putting their lives and businesses back together. Up to 200 Omaha District employees have been involved in the restoration efforts that are still ongoing. To date, all of Omaha’s active levee systems in the PL 84-99 program along the Missouri River, except the L-536 system, have been closed and returned to their pre-flood height. “It’s been a true team effort,” said Hudson. “Not only internal to the district with our engineers, our program and contracting officers, but also with the levee sponsors and local political leaders in the different communities; a true team effort where we all came together. We had some great meetings with levee sponsors about how to prioritize work and how to move forward. And then we were fortunate to get some really great contractors who were dedicated and determined to get the job done as well. It was remarkable to see it go from the early recovery, early planning, all the way through to where we are today.” While these systems have been returned to their original height, they do not yet offer the same level of risk reduction they

did prior to March 2019. There is still an elevated risk until all the damages on the levee systems can be fully repaired. Work continues to restore them to their pre-March 2019 risk reduction levels including repairing erosion, establishing sod cover, placing riprap, repairing drainage structures, and completing other miscellaneous repairs. In the Kansas City District, levee rehabilitation construction began in December 2019, and the pace has steadily increased since then. Currently, the district is approximately 22% complete with its rehabilitation efforts, and expects the percent of completed projects will increase significantly by late summer or early fall of 2020, in what is the largest levee rehabilitation effort in the district since 1993. “For the most part, weather this spring and summer has been cooperative from a levee rehab perspective. We’ve been able to make good progress downstream of Kansas City, particularly in the Jefferson City and Callaway County area,” Kneuvean said. “One of the hardest-hit areas, Holt County Missouri, was also one of the areas where flood waters persisted the longest, which complicated efforts. We’re now beginning to see levee rehab contracts being awarded in northwest Missouri and weather permitting, we expect our contractors to make steady progress in that region once mobilized.” While the two districts are focused on restoring the damage from Mother Nature’s wrath, they are also looking to the future as they work together to identify, communicate, reduce, and manage Missouri River Basin flood risk and improve resiliency. The states of Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri have expressed interest in pursuing short-term studies to address specific flood risk management needs and also submitted letters of intent to USACE in support of pursuing a long-term study of comprehensive flood risk management strategies and measures in the region. USACE, working closely with state and local partners, submitted a request to start a comprehensive lower Missouri River Basin flood risk management feasibility study and is eligible to compete for potential funding in a fiscal year 2020. This feasibility study includes surveys, modeling, studies, and future flood risk mitigation efforts overseen by Northwestern Division. Short-term efforts will develop products under the Planning Assistance to States authorities, Floodplain Management Services, Silver Jackets, and other programs to assist regional and local partners with their specific flood risk management data, technical, and planning needs. A general investigation feasibility study would look at implementing structural and nonstructural flood risk management measures on the lower Missouri River to reduce flood- and life-safety risks, increase system flood conveyance, and improve resiliency while minimizing impacts to navigation and the other authorized purposes of projects. The study should identify, develop, and release interim products where possible. These products would include useful modeling and data – interim actions that can be implemented before the end of the study – and any other useful actions or products. The study is projected to take five years. n 83



Repairing the Bonneville Navigation Lock required the contractor to break up, remove, and replace 1,400 cubic yards of concrete. Due to the urgency to return the lock to service, the contractor was pushed to complete the work in 25 days.


n Sept. 5, 2019, a flaw, long undetected, began its final series of failures at the Bonneville Navigation Lock. More than 70 feet underwater, sections of rebar had stretched and bent until the strain snapped them. The now-fragmented and deformed steel bars, which had once held a monolithic piece of concrete in place, allowed water to creep


under the structure. Now, massive forces of water began to lift the hulking, multi-ton concrete sill from the floor of the lock. In the lock operator’s control room, alarms began to sound. The lock works as a waterborne elevator: It is a sealable basin placed in between a difference in water levels, that empties and fills to match the water level of either side. These “elevators” are a critical component of the Columbia River System, which allows $24 billion of commerce to flow up and down the river. That is all to say the Portland District had to act quickly. Engineers needed the lock to be emptied for a closer look; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers put stop logs in to isolate the lock from the river and began to drain the lock. Next, a crane lowered a small group of engineers, one at a time, to the dry floor of the navigation lock. There, the flaw that had been 30 years in the making was finally apparent: Water pressure and time had begun to gouge a crater in the concrete after the rebar had given way. Back in Portland, engineers pored over the blueprints, reviewing photos from the last inspection. Matt Hansen, chief of the structural design section, said he and other engineers were astounded by the damage – he’d never seen anything like it. “It’s concrete – it should be just fine, right?” he said. “But we’re looking at the design and looking at the damage, and the truth was in front of us.” Officials at Portland District announced the same day that the navigation lock was shut down, halting all commerce traversing the Lower Columbia River – and they didn’t know when it would reopen. The plan was simple, but involved lots of work: Demolish the concrete sill. Lift out dozens of tons of concrete. Drill and cut into the concrete floor. Insert new rebar. Pour concrete. Stress test. Wait. Stress test again. Once the chamber was clear, the crew began drilling into the concrete floor to place rebar that would stabilize the new sill. After crews installed the rebar and built the form, they began piping down concrete into the navigation lock. It was the last large and crucial step in the repairs. After 48 hours, the concrete was completely hardened, or cured, and on Sept. 30, the lock operators opened the valves that feed water into the navigation lock, and began to operate the downstream miter gates. Less than 12 hours later, in the cover of night, but also at the first opportunity, the first barges traversed through Bonneville Navigation Lock for the first time in 25 days. Kristin Meira is the executive director of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, and was one of the stakeholders affected by the outage. “We never like to see things like this happen, but the short duration of the outage and the constant flow of information [from Portland District] allowed barge lines, grain growers, and other river users to manage and minimize the disruption to their own operations,” she said. For most of the crews and engineers that had worked through the outage, the lock’s return to service was celebrated with drinks. But Martha Brandl, the on-site administrative contracting officer, said she wanted something else: “Sleep.” n


An aerial view of the Mud Mountain Dam Fish Passage Facility construction site taken in June 2020. The original 1941-built fish passage facility is the steel structure on the right. It is dwarfed by the new one, which has stayed on schedule and budget and is becoming operational in December 2020. In addition to building the new facility, it also returns the river to its original width since the new facility sits where a non-USACE barrier was built in the early 1900s.



almon and killer whales, also known as orcas, are woven into the Pacific Northwest’s fabric. Both Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed Chinook salmon and Southern resident orcas, which rely on the Chinook, are struggling for survival after a century of habitat loss. The Seattle District is working with federal agencies, tribes, local governments, and other organizations on projects across Puget Sound. These projects will help restore habitat and update infrastructure to assist these and many other struggling species. There are nearly a dozen projects, some under construction, some funded, some awaiting appropriations, and others in different stages of progress. A key project on schedule and on budget for completion in October 2020 is the Mud Mountain Dam Fish Passage Facility. This will be the largest trap-and-haul facility in the nation, capable of transporting 1.2 million fish per year. Mud Mountain Dam is an earthen, rock-filled structure built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in 1948 for flood risk

management. The dam protects more than 400,000 homes and businesses along the valleys of the White and Puyallup rivers and has prevented an estimated $3.6 billion in flood damages. In 1941, as part of the dam’s construction, USACE also built a trap-and-haul facility. In addition to ESA-listed Puget Sound Chinook, the facility moves ESA-listed Puget Sound steelhead and coastal Puget Sound and coastal bull trout, and non-listed Coho and pink salmon. “It’s inadequate by today’s standards and was designed to only move 20,000 fish per year,” said Seattle District ESA coordinator and fish biologist Fred Goetz, Ph.D. “It manages to move upwards of 20,000 fish per day and, in 2019, we even moved a record 22,835 fish in one day.” Most of those nearly 23,000 fish were the abundant pink salmon, which only run in odd years, but also run around the same time as the protected Chinook, causing sorting and transporting issues. USACE was designing a replacement facility to haul about 30,000 fish per year, but a 2014 National Oceanic and Atmospheric 85

NORTHWESTERN DIVISION Administration (NOAA) Biological Opinion quadrupled that number. USACE and NOAA officials worked together discussing details about dam operations before NOAA issued the Opinion, with its 60,000-fish-per-day requirement and demand for a new operational facility by December 2020. It also included conditions for some major improvements in the dam’s fish passage operations. Those operational changes were instituted in 2015, and beginning in 2016, the Chinook returns have seen the best runs recorded since record-keeping began nearly eight decades ago. With historical lows of only a few dozen Chinook 20 years ago, officials believe recent rebounds are results of collaborative efforts in managing ESA-listed fish and designated critical habitat. “The operational changes are just a small part of the recent success,” said Goetz. “It really has been the years of collaboration between the Corps, NOAA, Muckleshoot and Puyallup Indian tribes, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The new trap-andhaul facility will also make a big contribution.” That big contribution came with a big effort to design, fund, award a contract, and construct the massive project in just six years.

USACE’s regional design team included more than 150 employees from three USACE districts and two architecture and engineering firms. Several regional stakeholders also collaborated on the design, including NOAA, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, and Cascade Water Alliance. “A design effort of this magnitude would typically take roughly three to five years,” said Senior Project Manager Leah Hauenstein. “The team was amazing and completed the complex design in about 18 months.” On top of the Herculean design effort, the contract award was just as impressive, being completed in under six months, half the normal acquisition time, according to Hauenstein. “The staff is excited to begin operating this impressive facility in just three months,” said Mud Mountain and Howard A. Hanson dams Operations Project Manager Kevin Heape. “We’ll build on this success and use the lessons learned as we begin anew on Howard A. Hanson’s downstream fish passage.” The 2019 NOAA Biological Opinion requires completion of a Howard A. Hanson Dam downstream fish passage by 2031. n



nvironmental sustainability in the Snake and Columbia rivers systems starts with fish, and restoring salmon, steelhead, and sockeye runs remains one of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Walla Walla District’s highest priorities. The latest fish survival improvements at the Lower Snake River dams involve myriad partners and federal agency scientists, biologists, and engineers developing projects including the Ice Harbor Dam advanced technology turbine; the passive integrated transponder detector; the juvenile bypass system; and river cooling systems


A view of the spillway bay following completion.

at Lower Granite Dam; and the adjustable spillway weir and fish cooling systems at Little Goose Dam.

A NEW ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY TURBINE INSTALLED AT ICE HARBOR DAM Ice Harbor Dam’s Unit No. 2 runner was upgraded in 2019 with a fixed blade runner designed for fish passage survival improvement. USACE officials say the improved design will reduce maintenance


Contract workers prep one of Lower Granite Dam’s spillway bays for installing passive integrated transponder tag detectors to provide monitoring data that validates fish survival rates.

costs, increase power generation by 3% to 4%, and increase fish survival. During the next few years, improvements will include installing new adjustable runner replacements on the other two units. All three turbine units will utilize greaseless bushings in the turbine wicket gates to reduce oil in the river. This new turbine design process serves as a model for future modernizations planned at McNary Dam and other federal dams in the Northwest.

JUVENILE BYPASS SYSTEM USACE developed the juvenile collection and bypass system at Lower Granite Lock and Dam to minimize turbine passage, increase fish survivability, and reduce injury in the existing bypass system. Work included: replacing or “daylighting” the existing underground pressurized fish passage with an elevated, above-ground, screen-covered, 2,700-foot-long flume; enlarging the dam’s fish passage orifices and collection channel; creating a new primary bypass outfall pipe that returns fish to the river at the location expected to improve survival; and reusing water removed from the juvenile fish bypass channel and repurposing it for adult fish ladder attraction.

PASSIVE INTEGRATED TRANSPONDER TAG DETECTORS Eleven new passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag detectors were installed at Lower Granite Dam this spring to provide fish research, monitor data, and validate fish survival rates. The system spans the entire 50-foot width of Spillbay No. 1, with antennas buried in the concrete.

LITTLE GOOSE ADJUSTABLE SPILLWAY WEIR Spillway weirs, or “fish slides,” allow juvenile salmon and steelhead to pass the dam near the water’s surface under lower accelerations

and lower pressures, providing a more efficient and less stressful dam passage route as they migrate downstream to the ocean. Little Goose Dam has an adjustable spillway weir that became operational in 2018. It’s more efficient, eliminates the need of a three-person crew to make adjustments, and can make adjustments in 30 minutes, versus the three days it took previously.

RIVER COOLING SYSTEMS AT LOWER GRANITE AND LITTLE GOOSE DAMS The years 2015 to 2019 were among the hottest years on record. Warm-water temperatures above 68 degrees aren’t beneficial for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake rivers systems. When summer temperatures spiked, the district’s scientists, biologists, and engineers responded to regional concerns by developing water cooling systems at Lower Granite and Little Goose dams. The system cools the Snake River by augmenting it with flows of colder, denser water released from Dworshak Dam, and by incorporating additional upgrades to promote cooling within the Lower Granite and Little Goose dams’ fish ladders. To reduce water temperatures, a large chimney with an open top and bottom was designed to encapsulate the fish ladder intake conduit and draw cooler water from 60 feet beneath the water’s surface. A large spray bar was developed that uses cooler water pumped from deep in the forebay to improve conditions for the fish ladder exit and the nearby forebay. Taken together, these steps reaffirm USACE’s and federal agencies’ commitment to fish improvements and go a long way toward ensuring the long-term viability of salmon, steelhead, and sockeye in the Northwest. n 87



he U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) South Pacific Division (SPD) provides federal and military engineering support in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and in parts of Colorado, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, and Texas. Comprised of 2,300 Soldiers and civilians at five operating districts (headquartered in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, Albuquerque, and Phoenix), the division manages a broad range of challenging missions across an economically, environmentally, and culturally diverse region. The South Pacific Division’s Military Construction program supports 25 Army and Air Force installations, including Military Ocean Terminal-Concord, a crucial component of military logistics and readiness, as well as Nellis, Cannon, Hill, and Kirtland Air Force Bases. The division is also partnering with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to build world-class medical facilities to support veterans. SPD is managing a $3.5 billion mega-program to modernize seven VA hospitals in California and Nevada, working in partnership to deliver projects that will serve those who have served our country.

South Pacific Division’s Civil Works program leverages federal resources for navigation, flood damage reduction, and ecosystem restoration. In the predominantly arid Pacific Southwest, water resources are vital to agriculture, urban development, natural ecosystems, tribal interests, and recreation. Major river basins include the Sacramento, San Joaquin, Santa Ana, Colorado, and Rio Grande, which are governed by complex water rights. Accordingly, the division works in partnership with other federal agencies, state governments, and local communities on collaborative solutions to these complex water resource issues. Under the Bipartisan Budget Act Storm Supplemental, the division is executing $2.5 billion in long-term investment construction focused on flood risk resiliency to reduce risk to communities and infrastructure. The division is also home to the Urban Search and Rescue Program, which trains and deploys structural engineers to augment the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) task forces, the military, and others in evaluating immediate structural conditions in a natural or man-made disaster.

BY THE NUMBERS • 10 states (5 shared with other divisions)

• Less than 20 inches annual precipitation; prone to flooding and

• 170 Native American Nations

drought cycles

• 81 members of the U.S. House of Representatives

• 30 recreational areas, hosting 15.7 million visits annually

• 20 U.S. senators

• 300 of 1,200 threatened/endangered species

• 15 of the 25 fastest-growing U.S. metropolitan areas

• 4 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and FEMA regions (6,

• 2,286 miles of federal levees • 46 dams and reservoirs

8, 9, and 10) • 13 Army and 12 Air Force installations/programs

• 5 strategic ports


SOUTH PACIFIC DIVISION 450 Golden Gate Ave. San Francisco, CA 94102 spd-pao@usace.army.mil (415) 503-6517 www.spn.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/SouthPacificDivisionUSACE/ twitter.com/usace_spd www.instagram.com/USACE_SPD www.youtube.com/user/Southpacificdivision

SACRAMENTO DISTRICT 1325 J St. Sacramento, CA 95814 spk-pao@usace.army.mil (916) 557-5100 www.spk.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/sacramentodistrict www.twitter.com/USACESacramento www.flickr.com/photos/sacramentodistrict www.youtube.com/user/SacramentoDistrict

ALBUQUERQUE DISTRICT 4101 Jefferson Plaza NE Albuquerque, NM 87109 cespa-pa@usace.army.mil (505) 342-3349 www.spa.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/albuquerquedistrict www.twitter.com/USACE_ABQ www.flickr.com/photos/usace_albuquerque

LOS ANGELES DISTRICT 915 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1105 Los Angeles, CA 90017 PublicAffairs.SPL@usace.army.mil (213) 452-3921 www.spl.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/LosAngelesDistrictUSACE www.twitter.com/LAdistrictUSACE www.flickr.com/photos/losangelesdistrict www.youtube.com/user/USACE90017

SOUTH PACIFIC BORDER DISTRICT 3636 N. Central Ave., Ste. 600 Phoenix, AZ 85012 SouthPacificBorderDistrict.PAO@usace.army.mil (602) 671-5467 www.spb.usace.army.mil/ SAN FRANCISCO DISTRICT 450 Golden Gate Ave. San Francisco, CA 94102 cespn-pa2@usace.army.mil (415) 503-6804 www.spn.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/USACESPN www.twitter.com/USACESPN www.youtube.com/user/USACESanFrancisco



Lt. Col. Robin Scott conducts the final construction walkthrough of an alternate care facility at the Miyamura High School in Gallup, New Mexico, constructed by USACE’s Albuquerque District in support of New Mexico’s COVID-19 response, April 21, 2020.



n the early months of 2020, the nation was upended by an unforeseen threat. While Americans across the country were leaning into the new year — new opportunities, goals, and plans — a new and highly contagious coronavirus, and the disease it causes, COVID19, was rapidly making its way from China to the United States. It came quickly, jolting the population into a state of uncertainty. Store shelves were being cleaned out. Images of hospital patients struggling to survive while hooked up to ventilators flooded our news

networks. Depending on where in the country you were, it seemed as though the virus itself was spreading faster than information about the virus was becoming available. In such an uncertain time, the nation’s leadership, medical professionals, and American families agreed that one thing was indeed certain: We could not allow hospitals to become overwhelmed. The White House called upon the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to begin constructing facilities across the country that would 89



Contractors work to convert space in Miyamura High School into an alternate care facility in Gallup, New Mexico, installing distributed oxygen lines (above) and other infrastructure.

create bed space by the thousands and serve as the foundation for an incredible surge of medical capacity. Districts throughout USACE mobilized rapidly to sync with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its respective state leaders to assess possible locations for alternate care facilities (ACFs). The Albuquerque District was tasked with leading the USACE rapid COVID-19 response mission in New Mexico and for the Navajo Nation, building a total of four ACFs in less than 30 days.

NEW MEXICO The Albuquerque District began assessing possible ACF locations March 20, and completed 12 site assessments across New Mexico after only one week. Assessments were conducted at Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Gallup, Farmington, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces. Each assessment included looking at electrical power capabilities, plumbing, physical space, computer network capabilities, health care-to-worker line 90

of sight, proximity to primary hospitals, and other factors for determining a suitable ACF location. “We wanted to be proactive and get as much data as we could early,” said Lt. Col. Robin Scott, Albuquerque District deputy commander and USACE COVID Response Task Force commander for New Mexico. “Ultimately it’s on the state leadership to decide where they want these facilities to be built, and they have to work that through FEMA, who will then give us the mission assignment to start building,” Scott said. “We want to make sure the governor and the COVID response committee have as much information as possible to help [with] their decisions and make sure they aren’t waiting on us at all.” The first ACF mission assignment was for a 200-bed-space renovation at the Gibson Medical Center, previously the Lovelace Hospital, in Albuquerque. Upon receiving the mission assignment from FEMA, the district’s real estate lawyers, contract specialists, and engineers went to work to secure a lease for the space and get contractors in the building.


The $4.1 million project was completed in only 14 days, with contractors working around the clock in shifts to create space for 200 patient beds. It proved to be the most challenging project for the Albuquerque District during the COVID-19 response mission, because the existing structure had been shuttered since 2007. There was unexpected “rusting and rotting” in the plumbing, according to the contractor. Additionally, the HVAC system required retrofitting to accomplish negative pressure in the patient care areas. sort GL of work you do on a building that is shuttered is going to be BY“Any MIKE ASCH, Omaha District a challenge,” Scott said. “We were fortunate to have a great contractor and subcontractors working on the site. The project needed to be completed on time, and we were able to do that.” The second FEMA mission assignment was for a 60-bed ACF at Miyamura High School in Gallup, New Mexico. While the state, at the time, wasn’t being hit particularly hard by COVID-19, the Navajo Nation was seeing a high infection rate. Gallup is located in the northwest corner of the state, closely neighboring the Navajo Nation. Unlike the complex retrofitting underway at the Gibson Medical Center in Albuquerque, the Miyamura High School project utilized a more straightforward “arena-to-health care” concept. The school’s gymnasium already maintained negative air pressure, and its open layout made designing the bed spaces much simpler. Copper pipes were run along the gym’s roof to supply oxygen down to a grid of neatly organized temporary room spaces constructed on the gym floor. The medical oxygen is supplied by a massive refillable tank installed just outside of the building. Like the Gibson Medical Center project, the Miyamura High School project was completed in only 14 days, and cost $2.5 million. “We came up with a very aggressive timeline for these,” Scott said. “The project teams, the contractors, everybody is moving as fast as possible to support the people of New Mexico. We have to be ready when we are called on, and I’m grateful that everyone is putting so much effort into [meeting] the requirement.”



USACE personnel conduct the final construction walkthrough of an alternate care facility constructed by USACE’s Albuquerque District in support of New Mexico’s COVID-19 response at the Miyamura High School in Gallup, New Mexico, April 21, 2020.

NAVAJO NATION The Navajo Nation faced unique challenges as COVID-19 surged across the country. With limited medical capacity and vast geographical space between some of the population and hospitals, additional patient space was badly needed. The Albuquerque District project teams were in the middle of two ACF projects in New Mexico — Gibson Medical Center and Miyamura High School — when leadership proactively met with Navajo Nation leadership to begin assessing possible locations for additional ACFs. Representatives with the Albuquerque District first met with Navajo Nation leadership April 1 and immediately began conducting site assessments on 10 possible locations. During the assessment phase, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer, along with several USACE and Arizona National Guard members, had to go into quarantine after coming in contact with a first responder who tested positive for COVID-19.

“This is real, and no one is immune from contracting the virus. We will continue to help fight for our people while we self-quarantine,” Nez stated in a press release. Nez and his staff determined the locations for ACFs would be at the Chinle Community Center in Chinle, Arizona, and the Atsa Biyaazh Community School in Shiprock, New Mexico. Both ACF projects utilized the arena-to-health care concept that was used in Gallup, and were both completed on the same aggressive 14-day timeline. “We are honored to work shoulder to shoulder with the Navajo Nation in support of their COVID-19 response efforts,” Scott said. “President Nez’s leadership has been tremendous and we are truly grateful for the opportunity to support [them] and for the partnership we share.” The Chinle Community Center project created bed space for 50 patients and cost $2.4 million. The Atsa Biyaazh Community School project created bed space for 40 patients, for $2.1 million. n 91



U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District Commander Col. James J. Handura watches as crews install a seepage cutoff wall along the Garden Highway Levee in Natomas, California, July 30, 2019. A raised spotter makes sure the excavator does not hit the electrical lines above the roadway. The construction required an extended full closure of the roadway from July 2019 to March 2020.



he U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Sacramento District has a proven track record of facing challenges head on. When 2020 brought with it the novel coronavirus, the district responded quickly to address the needs of a rapidly changing work environment. The public health emergency necessitated development of new methodologies that would ensure the safety of USACE employees, contractors, and residents, all while continuing crucial construction.


Social distancing, teleworking, and additional personal protective equipment requirements, along with the public’s ongoing need for information and input, saw district employees drawing on creativity and technical expertise in new ways. USACE management and employees developed effective and meaningful ways to work together, whether in the field or remotely from home. Col. James J. Handura, commander of the Sacramento District, expanded on the old adage, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,”



An excavator works along the Sacramento River East Levee in Sacramento, California, April 30, 2020. The levee is situated directly behind neighborhoods, and construction on vital flood risk reduction work continues while residents work and go to school remotely from home.

stating, “I certainly could not be more proud of the way everyone within the district has adapted to the unprecedented challenges COVID-19 brought to our workplace.” He added, “The district’s attention may have had to shift slightly to accommodate the needs of a pandemic situation, but its primary focus remains on balancing team member safety with project delivery.” Handura reiterated that critical infrastructure projects have remained on track and move toward targeted completion as scheduled. But while USACE’s focus remained on flood risk reduction, a shelter-in-place order issued mid-March brought with it additional challenges. The American River Common Features Project, a cooperative $1.8 billion effort between USACE, the Central Valley Flood Protection Board (CVFPB), California Department of Water Resources (DWR), and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA), serves as a piece of a larger plan to help the Sacramento region achieve a 200-year level of flood protection, meaning there would be a 1-in200 chance in any given year for flooding. The project, scheduled for completion in 2024, features approximately 13 miles of cutoff walls, 21 miles of bank protection, 5 miles of levee stabilization, 5 miles of levee raises, and the widening of the Sacramento Weir and Bypass. This year marked the start of major construction on the project, and the pandemic hit just as crews were mobilizing,

meaning both USACE and its contractors faced unexpected public impacts. Local residents, forced to stay home, were contending with noise, vibrations, dust, and loss of recreation. USACE received calls requesting the crucial work be delayed, and contractors had to deal with increased public scrutiny. Despite navigating these uncommon obstacles, work remains on track for the $64 million Sacramento River East Levee Contract 1, which will see approximately 3 miles of levee improvements constructed, including a combination of seepage cutoff walls and seepage berms at five locations. “It is a large, complex project intensified by the shelter-in-place order,” said USACE project manager Nikole May. “The team has had to transform to a virtual environment to the greatest extent possible and the residents are having to work and go to school from home with major construction happening in their neighborhood. Everyone has done an amazing job at being adaptable and navigating some uncommon challenges.” While work on the Sacramento River levee was facing additional challenges, another project just north of downtown Sacramento was finding a surprising benefit from the stay-at-home order. Sacramento’s Natomas Basin is considered one of the most at-risk areas in the nation for catastrophic flooding. The basin is surrounded by 42 miles of levees, which are being upgraded by USACE, CVFPB, 93

DWR, and SAFCA as part of a $1.5 billion program. The levee that protects the basin is also often the main thoroughfare for transportation as it sits on top of the Garden Highway, a two-lane road that runs along the basin’s perimeter. In March 2020, a section of Garden Highway was just reopening after more than eight months of being closed. The next phase of roadwork was not scheduled to start for several months; however, the project team saw an opportunity. “Not as many people were driving because a lot of businesses were shut down or operating [at] reduced levels,” said project manager John Hoge. “By re-sequencing our work, we could start the roadwork in April and get a bulk of the work done before the economy reopened.” The re-sequenced section was completed in June, and construction rolled right into the final phase of work on schedule. “It was a lot of work in a short amount of time to re-sequence, but it was the right thing to do,” said Hoge. Regular construction updates, along with improved web pages, have been key to addressing the public’s concerns during an unprecedented time. Public involvement also continues, shifting from traditional in-person information meetings to meetings hosted virtually with streaming technology. Although the current public health crisis brings with it extraordinary challenges, the Sacramento District remains committed to its mission of ensuring public safety. “We will continue to achieve this by delivering vital civil engineering services,” Handura stated. “By empowering everyone within the district to approach this challenge with enhanced creativity and teamwork, we are ideally positioned to push forward with needed flood risk management improvements for one of the most at-risk regions in the nation.” n



Crews install an additional section of augers to the deep-mix method drill rig near Garcia Bend Park in Sacramento’s Pocket Neighborhood June 2, 2020. Some sections of work required a seepage cutoff wall installed up to 130 feet deep, which is too deep for traditional long-stick excavation methods.



he U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Los Angeles District plays a crucial part in improving public safety, quality of life, and the economy for Los Angeles and beyond. Its team has recently grown to include park rangers working in unique circumstances. USACE is one of the nation’s leading federal providers of outdoor recreation, with more than 400 lake and river projects in 43 states providing more than 7,700 miles of land and water trail systems. Park rangers protect the nation’s natural recreation facilities and


their visitors. They also help preserve natural resources by managing recreational grounds and educating visitors through environmental outreach programs. The Los Angeles District is unique, because all the recreation components within the district’s numerous flood control projects are leased to and managed by local county or city recreation partners. “What makes us so unique is we still maintain property under our jurisdiction within many major metropolitan areas,” Los Angeles District park ranger Nick Figueroa explained. “There is no other



USACE Los Angeles District park ranger Mary Carmona secures the gate at the Deep Creek Road entrance May 17, 2020. Vandals have continually cut the locks and removed the chains that secure the gate at several of the USACE Mojave River Dam basin entrances in San Bernardino County. The area, also known as the “Deep Creek Spillway,” is located on federal property and is restricted to authorized motor vehicles and personnel.

district that we know of that has this responsibility. We have had to adapt our nationwide program, that focuses heavily on rural settings, to an urban setting.” The district developed its first Ranger program in fall 2018, staffing six full-time rangers who target four natural resource management areas: recreation management, resource management (environmental stewardship), visitor assistance, and interpretation. Rangers also support the district’s flood risk management mission.

“First, this is a brand-new program that is being implemented within one of the highest-populated areas of the nation,” said Robert Moreno, a senior park ranger with the Los Angeles District. “We are building the program from [the] ground up in an area that has dry basins and leased recreation areas. Our mission is the same as other programs across the nation in that we care about our natural resources and indirectly manage our leased resources.” The Ranger program is managed by the district’s Operations Division. The division is responsible for the operation and 95



Los Angeles District park ranger Annel Montsalvo, left, hands out information to a family participating in Los Angeles County’s Overnight Family Camping and Fishing event Sept. 26, 2020, at Whittier Narrows Recreation Area in South El Monte, California. Montsalvo and other park rangers used the event as an opportunity to educate members of the public on topics such as water safety, environmental stewardship, and flood preparedness as part of National Public Lands Day.

maintenance of flood risk management facilities, including 15 dams and 68 miles of levees and channels across Arizona, Nevada, and Southern California. These facilities reduce the risk of flooding for critical infrastructure, transportation corridors, residences, and businesses. The Ranger program, now a critical component of the Operations Division, provides staff with the opportunity to meet and educate the communities that live and work near these projects. When Figueroa was asked about the major recreation areas, or USACE-managed ones, and what his team does to supplement the absence of traditional ranger work, he explained that they focus heavily on interpretive and outreach programs, and in strengthening partnerships with numerous municipalities and civic organizations in the surrounding communities. 96

“Los Angeles is a goldmine for partnerships, and this district will soon lead the charge,” Figueroa added. On Sept. 26, rangers interacted with families during an overnight fishing event at the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area in South El Monte, California. The event was hosted by Los Angeles County. Rangers participated to commemorate National Public Lands Day, the largest single-day volunteer event aimed at inspiring environmental stewardship of America’s public lands. This year, federal agencies faced challenges as they sought ways to engage the public and celebrate National Public Lands Day during a pandemic. Event planners ensured the fishing event participants followed COVID-19 safety precautions. Los Angeles District park ranger Mary Carmona, who regularly attends public outreach events within the district, said education



Volunteer Raisa Parnell, center, picks up trash along the San Gabriel Spillway in the Whittier Narrows Natural Area as part of National Public Lands Day. Honoring National Public Lands Day, USACE’s Los Angeles District partnered with Los Angeles County, the Whittier Narrows Nature Center Associates, and local volunteers who joined forces to clean up and remove trash from the San Gabriel riverbed at the Whittier Narrows Nature Center, Sept. 28.

is the prime reason park rangers participate in these types of events. “It’s our job to educate and inform the public,” Carmona said of herself and her fellow park rangers. “I [have] lived just 2 miles away from Whittier Narrows for many years, so I am very familiar with the community.” “Parents and children seemed excited to know about who we are, what we do, and how we can assist them,” said Annel Monsalvo, Los Angeles District park ranger. “We provided coloring books; activity books, both in English and in Spanish; and other goodies, such as Frisbees, cups, adhesive phone pouches, and towels.” The job of a district park ranger is unpredictable. Her or his day may begin patrolling the lush green parks within the San Gabriel Valley and end with code enforcement duties in the arid high-desert Mojave River Dam flood control project, located in San Bernardino County. This past summer, Figueroa and Carmona traveled to the dam after their office received reports of vandalism and unauthorized

off-highway vehicle (OHV) activity at the dam. Figueroa and Carmona advised several OHV operators of their unauthorized access into the basin. “We were out there communicating with some of the folks recreating within the critical habitat area,” Figueroa said. “Over the years, there have been a lot of folks who have come out with their OHVs or dirt bikes and either have made their own way around the locked gate or have driven over large dirt embankments, which have been placed around the basin to block illegal access to the area.” Figueroa and Carmona issued parking tickets to vehicles that had illegally gained access to the area and parked adjacent to the dam’s emergency spillway. More than 25 OHV operators were contacted and advised to immediately leave the area. For more information about the USACE Ranger program, or to find events near you, visit www.spl.usace.army.mil or call a local USACE lake or river project office. For more information about USACE’s recreation opportunities, visit www.CorpsLakes.us. n 97



San Francisco District fisheries biologist Ben White releases juvenile coho salmon raised at the Warm Springs Fish Hatchery into Lake Sonoma.



n extensive effort is underway across coastal regions of Northern California to save the state’s endangered coho salmon. The species has come close to extinction, experts say, because of a range of issues including development, overfishing, logging, and prolonged drought – circumstances that are challenging environmentalists determined to restore the most vulnerable and sensitive of the salmon species. In Sonoma County in 2001, fewer than a dozen adult coho salmon returned from the ocean to spawn in local waterways. And despite extensive efforts to restore and improve aquatic habitat for coho in


neighboring Mendocino County, those numbers have not increased significantly either. “There are just not enough adults returning and spawning successfully,” said Ben White, a fisheries biologist at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Don Clausen Fish Hatchery in the Sonoma County town of Geyserville. The hatchery is now partnered with a variety of government agencies and conservation groups on a project designed to increase the number of coho salmon in Northern California waterways.


“I think these fish are getting hit extra hard because of things like drought, all the water diversions going on, all the stress on our landscapes from development and urbanization, coupled with the coho’s short and rigid lifespan,” said White. After having success raising wild coho from the Russian River watershed, USACE is now tapping two decades’ worth of salmon-rearing experience to revive coho in next-door Mendocino County. Last fall, White and others waded into the Garcia and Navarro rivers to collect more than 200 juvenile coho that will be raised to adulthood in sprawling tanks at the Don Clausen hatchery before being released back into local waterways to spawn naturally on their own. The effort to restore endangered coho is compounded by the fact that the species, by nature, has a very high mortality rate. “If we pull in 250 fish from the wild as juveniles, you would only expect two or three of those to make it back from the ocean as an adult based on their survival in the wild,” said White. “Whereas, if you bring them to our facility, I have an 85 to 90% survival rate to adulthood, so I can return over 200 fish to the wild to spawn naturally.” Research conducted by the National Marine Fisheries Service had shown that when coho salmon populations are severely depleted, inbreeding results, further affecting the livelihood of the species. To prevent that, DNA testing will be conducted while the fish are in captivity to identify compatible mates based on their relatedness to one another. When ready, the coho will be released back into the Garcia River watershed with suitable spawning partners to breed naturally in the wild, while at the same time improving genetic diversity among the population. Given that USACE’s fish hatchery in Geyserville has been able to help restore endangered coho populations there, White is optimistic about improving Mendocino’s stock. “I think we can make a difference. I feel like we have a community that’s really involved. You don’t want to wait until the fish are gone.” The project is a partnership with NOAA, the state of California, and several conservation groups, including The Nature Conservancy and the Conservation Fund, as well as private landowners. White said this year’s fall release will include approximately 120,000 juvenile coho into 15 tributaries of the Russian River. All of the fish will receive a coded wire tag, and 15% will receive a transponder tag. “Since our tagging and release efforts require employees to work in closer proximity to one another, we will need to be very diligent about applying our COVID-19 safety measures during these activities,” he said. Hatchery work, though, continues business as usual amid the current pandemic. “We use the same safety measures as other places – social distancing, wearing masks around others, a lot of hand-washing – but we are able to implement them a little easier in a hatchery setting due to the nature of our jobs and our work environment,” said White. “We now conduct a lot of our basic hatchery tasks, such as cleaning tanks and feeding the fish, independently of one another since the coho building is so spacious and allows us to really spread out during these activities.” n



Top: San Francisco District fisheries biologist Ben White sorts through a bucket of wild salmon on the Navarro River. Above: White collects juvenile coho salmon from a tank at the Warm Springs Fish Hatchery at Lake Sonoma.


PACIFIC OCEAN DIVISION The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Pacific Ocean Division (POD): • Integrates and employs engineer capabilities to deliver revolutionary solutions that promote security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and protect the nation, through the resilient workforce of USACE’s four engineer districts – Alaska, Far East, Honolulu, and Japan – located across the U.S. IndoPacific Command (INDOPACOM) and U.S. Northern Command areas of responsibility. • Operates in a complex and diverse region that encompasses the largest area of division responsibility within USACE: • Spans 16 time zones; • Covers 52% of the Earth’s surface and includes half of the world’s population; and • Includes the four most-populous nations, two largest democracies, seven of the world’s 10 largest armies, and five of seven U.S. mutual defense treaties. • Enables basing, force projection, protection, and sustainment by providing Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps forces and Department of Defense (DOD) agencies the infrastructure to operate

PACIFIC OCEAN DIVISION Building 525 Fort Shafter, HI 96858-5440 (808) 835-4715 POD-PAO@usace.army.mil www.pod.usace.army.mil/ www.facebook.com/PODCorps ALASKA DISTRICT P.O. Box 6898 Anchorage, AK 99506-0898 (907) 753-2520 Public.Affairs3@usace.army.mil www.poa.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/AlaskaCorps www.twitter.com/AlaskaCorps www.flickr.com/AlaskaCorps www.youtube.com/user/AlaskaCorps


effectively, sustain readiness, and enhance quality of life. POD is responsible for three of the four largest military/host-nation construction programs since the end of the Cold War, totaling nearly $28 billion: • The $10.7 billion, multiyear, massive Korea Relocation Program includes the construction of 655 new and renovated facilities, which will enable the relocation of approximately 12,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea to U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys in support of the United States-Republic of Korea Alliance; • A multibillion-dollar, multiyear U.S.-Japan Defense Policy Review Initiative resulting in the rebuilding of 77% of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni; • The Okinawa Consolidation and Futenma Replacement Facility’s scope of work includes 400 projects, which will reduce the U.S. military’s footprint in Okinawa. These projects highlight the nation’s commitment to the U.S.Japan Alliance; and • Hosts meetings and conferences with U.S. military service components and Japanese Alliance partners to adapt processes to improve

FAR EAST DISTRICT USAEDFE CEPOF-PA Unit 15546 APO AP 96271 (011) 82-50-3355-6300 DLL-CEPOF-PA@usace.army.mil www.pof.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/USACE.FED.Korea www.twitter.com/FarEastDistrict www.flickr.com/photos/fedpao www.youtube.com/user/FarEastDistrict HONOLULU DISTRICT Building 230, Room 302 Fort Shafter, HI 96858-5440 (808) 835-4004 CEPOH-PA@usace.army.mil www.poh.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/HonoluluDistrict www.twitter.com/CorpsHonolulu www.flickr.com/HonoluluDistrict www.youtube.com/HonoluluDistrict

JAPAN DISTRICT Unit 45010 APO AP 96-338-5010 (011) 81-46-407-3021 CEPOJ-PA@usace.army.mil www.poj.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/JapanEngineerDistrict

construction, address acceptable unified facilities criteria alternatives, and develop an improved framework to better manage project planning in Japan. • Strengthens relationships and builds partner capacity and all-hazards response through disaster risk management, technical engineering, water security, humanitarian assistance, and Foreign Military Sales activities. POD works closely with INDOPACOM, U.S. Army Pacific, and its interagency partners in a “whole of government” approach to train and develop local leaders, engineers, and organizations, while conducting general engineering tasks with its partners so that they may effectively protect and govern their citizens: • Conducted more than 400 partner-capacity building activities in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region since 2012, sharing best practices and lessons learned; providing subject-matter expert exchanges; enhancing trust and communication; and enabling alliances and partnerships; • Delivered more than 300 INDOPACOM humanitarian assistance (HA) “brick and mortar” construction projects, such as schools, clinics, blood banks, wells, and emergency shelters since 2007; • Currently managing nearly 44 INDOPACOM HA construction projects in eight countries; and • Executed or is planning 70-plus capacity-building engagements and activities in 16 countries during FY 2019. • Executes integrated water resource management in Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. territories of Guam and American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. POD delivers enduring and essential water resources solutions and infrastructure, which includes navigation (deep-water commercial ports, small boat harbors, and harbors of refuge); flood and coastal risk management; and aquatic ecosystem restoration: • Maintains 89 harbors to ensure safe and efficient operations, enabling more that 65 million tons of cargo to pass annually in Alaska and Hawaii – locations that are highly dependent on commercial and subsistence navigation.

Anchorage Harbor is designated as one of only 19 DOD strategic seaports; and • Maintains 273,600 square miles of wetlands, about 7,390 miles of coastlines, 34,960 miles of tidal coastlands, and 89 ports or small boat harbors in its area of responsibility. • Delivers results as the nation’s environmental engineers: • Protects the nation’s aquatic resources, while allowing reasonable development through fair, flexible, and balanced permit decisions. Notably, the state of Hawaii is ranked first in the nation with 454 listings of endangered species; • Processed more than 4,500 Regulatory Program actions during FY 2020, while balancing reasonable development with protection of the waters of the United States; and • Protects the public and restores the environment through the Defense Environmental Restoration Program for Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) in Alaska and Hawaii, with an approximate amount of more than 180 projects and more than $58 million in clean-up actions during FY 2020. One example is the Waikoloa site on the island of Hawaii, where more than 29,000 acres of this 123,000-plus-acre site have been cleared of more than 2,400 munitions and explosives of concern. This is the largest active FUDS site nationwide. • Supports the Federal Emergency Management Agency under the National Response Framework, with engineering resources for disaster response and the recovery of public works and critical infrastructure in a region where 80% of the world’s natural disasters occur. • Depends on a diverse and exceptional blend of all engineering and support competencies from its 1,600-member POD team of active-duty military, U.S. and host-nation civilian engineers, scientists, and support staff to accomplish its mission. The strength and foundation of the Pacific Ocean Division is the agile, adaptive leaders and workforce who adopt revolutionary approaches while empowering team members to accomplish the mission.





n April 2016, the U.S. Air Force announced the selection of Eielson Air Force Base as the future home for two F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft squadrons, a total of 54 jets. To support the stationing of these aircraft, along with an estimated 1,500 airmen and women and their families, everything from airplane hangars and maintenance facilities to a dining hall and a school-age center needed to be engineered and constructed in the four-year period leading up to the scheduled arrival. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Alaska District partnered with the 354th Fighter Wing to provide critical engineering solutions for the delivery of essential infrastructure. The district assigned a field team of nearly 20 personnel to oversee construction activities and monitor the progress of work on base, while other USACE employees supported the effort remotely. “The stationing of these aircraft is a significant operational change in the mission focus for Eielson Air Force Base, and it would not be possible without the critical infrastructure improvements and facilities constructed under this program,” said Maj. Nathan Tarter, officer in charge of the F-35A program for the district. As the United States invests greater focus on strengthening stability and security in the Indo-Asia Pacific region, the importance of Alaska as a strategic military location continues to increase. By delivering world-class facilities that are built to last, the Alaska District is helping to expand Air Force capabilities and advance U.S. interests within the region. “Once Eielson’s F-35 bed-down is complete, the state of Alaska will have the highest concentration of combat-coded, fifth-generation aircraft anywhere in the Department of Defense,” said Staff Sgt. Zade Vadnais of the 354th Fighter Wing’s Public Affairs Office. “With tanker support, Eielson’s strategic location at the top of the globe puts our pilots just one fighter sortie away from any target in the northern hemisphere, making Alaska an ideal hub for fifth-generation fighter operations.”


With responsibility for 19 congressionally authorized construction projects associated with the F-35A bed-down program, the district is building facilities that support warrior readiness, training, and quality of life. As of December 2020, 13 projects are substantially complete, four are in construction, and two are awaiting contract awards. Instead of awarding one large contract as districts have approached programs of this size in the past, the contracting team sought ways to maximize the opportunity for construction companies of various sizes to bid on work. “We did a lot to support small businesses in the state by awarding many of the smaller contracts to them, something we could do by creating separate contracts for each project instead [of] one large contract,” said Michelle Mandel, chief of the military branch for the district’s Contracting Division. In total, construction activity associated with the siting of the F-35A in Alaska is expected to generate $453.4 million in economic output and create an estimated 2,339 new jobs, according to the record of decision for the Air Force’s environmental impact statement published in April 2016. The Alaska District awarded the program’s first contract eight months after the announcement of the base as the new home for the F-35A fighter jet: a flight simulator center to support training requirements of the airmen. But just because work started quickly does not mean engineering the facilities was an easy undertaking. “The F-35A program faced a variety of challenges,” Tarter said. “This was a complicated weapon system bed-down executed in a remote location. The program faced extreme climate, industry challenges for availability of personnel and equipment resulting from the remote location, and known soil contamination.” As a military installation dating back to the Word War II era, Eielson was designated as a federal superfund site in 1989. Taking into account possible soil contamination issues at the F-35 project sites, the team used historical records and scope-of-work sampling prior to contract selection. This work allowed accurate timelines and costs for each project. Meanwhile, using creative solutions such as building a tent over a construction site to allow concrete to be laid at a temperature of minus 25 degrees, the district found ways to overcome adversity and prevent delays in the construction schedule. “Building in interior Alaska is a unique situation,” Mandel said. “We tried to award contracts so building started first thing in spring and projects could be enclosed by the time the cold weather started to keep costs down.” Cognizant of the extreme weather conditions in a subarctic climate, the district built two four-bay hangars and two 16-bay weather shelters as part of the crucial infrastructure needed to house the aircraft on base. These facilities keep the jets safe in Alaskan winters, when temperatures can reach lows of minus 60 degrees, and in Alaskan summers, when temperatures can reach into the 90s. The team also worked alongside USACE’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory to address permafrost issues. Solutions included thawing the ground to provide a stable foundation at one




BY MIKE GL ASCH, Omaha District

Top: Workers place concrete for the foundation of a new facility as part of the F-35A bed-down program at Eielson Air Force Base. Above: The flight simulator project, valued at $19.8 million, represents the first program contract awarded.



construction site, while installing a passive cooling system beneath the building at another project to prevent facility heat from thawing the ground over time. While the team busily worked through the hurdles of location and climate in preparation for the arrival of the first aircraft squadron in April 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. “Every project associated with the bed-down program faced some form of COVID-19-related delay,” Tarter said. “Crews were out of state, workers faced childcare challenges, and material suppliers’ factories shut down. Specialty equipment installations also experienced setbacks, as inspectors from out of state could not come to inspect the equipment.”

As a cooperative effort between contractors and the Alaska District, mitigation of all issues that arose from COVID-19 occurred at the field level through creative methods to reach the contracts’ intent without a loss of mission capability or a slip in overall program schedule. On April 21, the Alaska District team was proud to see the first F-35As arrive, representing four years of work coming to fruition and the beginning of a journey for those at Eielson. “The arrival of the first aircraft was an awesome event that truly demonstrated the importance of our work,” Tarter said. “The level of combat power that can be projected because of the work of this team is awe-inspiring, and was a proud moment for the whole team.” n






n March 27, the district received its first mission assignment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and conducted a facility assessment of the Alaska Airlines Center to determine its viability as an alternate care facility (ACF) site. In Alaska, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) formed two assessment teams – one each in Anchorage and Fairbanks – as well as a design team. The design team applied the USACE standard-design templates for possible expedient construction at the selected locations. On April 7, the district received the FEMA mission to convert the arena’s auxiliary gym to accommodate 51 people should the medical demand exist. Two days later, the $1.26 million contract was awarded to Neeser Paug-Vik Joint Venture, LLC of Anchorage, and work began the same day. In the event that more patient space was required, the gymnastics practice area and main performance gym could also be converted to increase capacity to 163 beds among the three areas. “I commend our contractors, state of Alaska, municipality of Anchorage, and this health community for this whole-of-government response,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Tickner, former commanding general of Pacific Ocean Division. “This has truly been a team effort and a template for how to expand hospital capacity for other disasters,” said Matt Johnson, Alaska District’s COVID-19 ACF site program manager. If the Anchorage-area hospitals reached capacity, then the ACF would be used to treat patients not infected with coronavirus. However, if coronavirus-positive patients became too many for the hospitals, then the new ACF was equipped to handle them, said Ella Goss, CEO of Providence Alaska Medical Center and overseer of the alternate care site. “I am incredibly proud to be an Alaskan right now,” Goss said. “I think we have come together in a way no other state has [to] make sure we are caring for our people. We can’t do that without each other and without incredible partnerships and trust.” n

Matt Johnson, Alaska District program manager, points to duct work for the negative pressure system while escorting Brig. Gen. Thomas Tickner (right), former commanding general of USACE’s Pacific Ocean Division, and Col. David Hibner, former acting commander of the Alaska District, on a tour of the alternate care facility at the Alaska Airlines Center on April 21 in Anchorage.


DISTRICT PROVIDES TECHNICAL SUPPORT DURING CONSTRUCTION OF ROK F-35A FACILITIES BY ANT WAUN J. PARRISH, Far East District One of the main responsibilities for this project was for FED to serve as technical adviser to the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office (JPO) and ROK Defense Installations Agency (DIA) on the



he U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Far East District (FED) provided unique support to the Republic of Korea (ROK) Joint Strike Fighter (F-35A) bed-down effort.

Aerial flight testing of the ROK air force F-35A by pilot Alan Norman above the Fort Worth, Texas, area in March 2018.



engineering design and construction of new facilities in support of the F-35 bed-down. The F-35 Lightning II fighter jet is a single-seat, single-engine fighter aircraft designed for many missions, with advanced, integrated sensors. Missions that were traditionally performed by small numbers of specialized aircraft, such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and electronic-attack missions, can now be executed by a squadron of F-35s, bringing new capabilities to many allied forces. According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the F-35 provides the ROK with a credible defense capability to deter aggression in the region and ensure interoperability with U.S. forces. Ensuring that this mission-critical aircraft has support facilities is key to the overall mission success of the U.S. and ROK forces. This project falls in line with the district’s mission to deliver engineering solutions in the Republic of Korea and to secure U.S. allies and the nation. FED helped educate the ROK on security issues and procedures, established and coordinated a design-review process, and provided onsite reporting to JPO during the construction. According to a Programs and Project Management Division representative, this mission is unique in the fact that it’s the first time USACE has supported the Foreign Military Sales process interoperability. FED also served as JPO’s forward presence for construction activities at Cheongju and ROK air force (ROKAF) headquarters. FED provided two construction representatives five days a week, a project engineer once a week, and a resident engineer once a month. Other FED support includes a project manager, design manager, chief, and construction division as well as quality-assurance branch personnel. The contract amount is $2.1 million, and construction has taken place over a four-year period. Phase I of the project at Area 6 began in November 2016 and was completed in June 2018. Phase II began in July 2018 and is scheduled to be completed by 2021. The construction includes a total of 65 facilities. Some of the types of facilities constructed during this project include hangars, fueling area (apron), training center, storage facilities, and squadron facilities. Chi YongChae, a Central Resident Office project engineer, is currently the project engineer responsible for the completion of this massive project. YongChae went into further detail about the overall support the FED provided to the ROK Joint Strike Fighter F-35 bed-down. “We provided basic design and specification support to the Korea Design Company,” said YongChae. “The FED field team conducted quality assurance inspections at Area I and monitored the construction site and supported on-site. We also attended weekly meetings with the ROKAF and construction management and monitored the status, provided support and advice, and used the inspection tool from the U.S. [Army] Corps of Engineers’ inspection guide.” During the initial phase of the project, from December 2016 to February 2017, FED was to provide technical assistance and 106

advice to the ROK air force for their construction project of a small Special Access Program (SAP) room and collateral security area in the ROK air force headquarters in Daejeon. The support requirement was for only two or three days at Daejeon. Ensuring construction helps the ROK forces fulfill their mission at the forefront of the project. YongChae stated that the FED supports the basic design and specification and USACE inspection tool. “The contractor [Daewoo] and CM [construction management] did outstanding projects and arrived at FA-35 Area I on time,” said YongChae. “Area 2 is still under construction for [a] taxiway and access road around hangars.” YongChae went on to state that the ROKAF occupied security control buildings in January 2020. Providing direct support to the construction team is a part of YongChae’s responsibilities, and he explained some of the insight he provided when joining this project. “I checked the project site, and took current construction photos and reported to JPO weekly … I attended weekly meetings with ROKAF, the contractor, and CM,” said YongChae. YongChae was also tasked to provide technical advice to DIA and ROKAF during their preparation of required documentation – checklists, shop drawings, photographs, quality control management, and construction progress – for U.S. government certification and accreditation of Special Access Program Facility (SAPF) areas. Also, YongChae and his team are responsible for providing limited construction surveillance technical advice to DIA and ROKAF for all other facilities (non-SAPF and non-collateral secure areas) as well as provide a brief summary of findings/recommendation to DIA, with a copy furnished to JPO. In the initial draft memo, FED is assigned to provide a written report via email to JPO on construction activities every two weeks. Discussing pending issues with JPO was a large component within YongChae’s scope, as he wanted to ensure that issues could be resolved and not cause a major delay in construction. He described each support agency and their involvement with this four-year project. “The DIA is the main customer and they coordinate with Airfield Control Office security, site release, and status control,” said YongChae. “They also control the CM directly.” He went on to state that JPO is the main operational office during construction, and that they check the construction status and check the high-security inspection at SQ building and coordinate with Northrop Airplane Company. The technical support, which the district Quality Assurance Branch (QAB) provides after inspections, has helped improve other areas within various stages of the project. “FED QAB team checked the entire construction inspection at Area I in 2019,” said YongChae, “based on the technical support, the improved construction electricity, and arch work at Area 2. “This project has kept the vision of the district to be the trusted engineers on the peninsula as focused professionals delivering quality, engineering excellence, and [are] driven to exceed expectations.” n




coordination with the Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and state and territorial governments. The COVID-19 response heralded several unique historical and operational firsts for the district’s engineers.


uring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) response to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Hawaii and the U.S. Pacific territories in 2020, Honolulu District conducted 43 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mission-assigned site assessments in direct

A USACE technical survey team listens to U.S. Public Health Service Capt. Erik Vincent, strategic planning liaison for U.S. INDO-PACOM, discuss potential roadway access to the Hawaii Convention Center during a site assessment.

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PACIFIC OCE AN DIVISION FEMA mission assignments were assigned to provide national and regional support to address possible medical facility shortages. Following a presidential declaration that a major disaster existed in the state of Hawaii, federal funding was made available to the state to utilize USACE-related emergency support measures. Implementation of alternate care facilities (ACFs) is a state-led and -managed process. Soon after, several Pacific territorial governments also declared a state of emergency. “We worked closely with the counties, the state, and our federal partners to identify the projected needs and evaluate sites based on their space requirements,” said Jeff Herzog, Honolulu District’s assessment team leader. “USACE was ready to provide several simple engineering solutions to a very challenging and complex problem.” Building on long-established government, territorial, and interagency relationships across the Pacific, the district was able to quickly respond to the FEMA mission assignments. With commercial travel restricted, the district site assessment team traveled via military airlift in April to the islands of Maui and Kauai, and later conducted its first-ever virtual technical site assessments from district headquarters May 6 and May 7 with FEMA, state of Hawaii, HHS, and Hawaii County officials seeking to have the North Hawaii Community Hospital and Kona Community Hospital medical locations evaluated for potential upgrades to ACFs. In addition to locations in Hawaii, USACE conducted technical planning and site assessments at Guam locations on mission assignment through FEMA, in partnership with HHS and the government of Guam. Due to travel restrictions, Honolulu District requested direct assistance from Naval Facilities Engineer Command

(NAVFAC)-Pacific and NAVFAC Marianas on Guam to provide engineering personnel support to complete the FEMA site-assessment mission for Guam. “This was the power of partnership at its finest,” said Lt. Col. Kathryn Sanborn, who was the Honolulu District commander during the first four months of the pandemic. “When USACE got the call to provide assistance quickly, NAVFAC stepped up to support us in the COVID-19 mission fight without a moment’s delay. This was the first time USACE has partnered to conduct such a joint mission. The need for time-critical assessments for the government of Guam made this partnership more crucial to the mission. NAVFAC Marianas’ assistance in getting the mission completed was invaluable.” The NAVFAC/USACE site-assessment mission partnership was unique, as the Army and Navy each conduct specific yet different engineering services for Guam. The U.S. Navy and NAVFAC Marianas provide nearly all routine military engineering and construction services for Guam, while USACE provides regulatory and civil works services, supports FEMA mission assignments for disaster response, and provides interagency and international services. FEMA-directed site assessments for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) were also conducted by locally based engineers as directed by the CNMI government. An island-based USACE representative, working in partnership with the American Samoa government, was able to conduct several time-critical assessments and provide necessary data to make informed decisions on potential ACF construction. The American Samoa government later augmented an existing medical facility to meet their medical needs using USACE ACF planning documents. n



or the nearly 50 personnel who provide world-class engineering services in Honolulu District’s Regional Engineering Center (REC) , being a part of America’s engineers in the Pacific means contributing to one of the most unique Pacific missions in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) .


The REC supports the Pacific Ocean Division (POD) region – whose expanse includes the reach of Indo-Pacific Command – with design, technical review, and architect-engineering contracting support, including a full range of technical services vital to the planning, design, and construction execution missions of the district. The REC also serves as an expanded center of engineering



The pre-final architectural rendering of the FY 2021 Wheeler Army Airfield maintenance hangar designed by the Honolulu District.

expertise in the Pacific basin for the Alaska, Far East (South Korea), and Japan districts in USACE’s POD. “This capability is of vital importance to our regional customers,” said Todd Barnes, Honolulu District’s chief of engineering and construction. “We interact with U.S. territorial and independent island governments, state and local authorities, and numerous U.S. and international agencies in our area of responsibility. The REC’s work in the island territories and countries is especially crucial since harbor and shore protection projects directly impact commerce and quality of life for residents.” Honolulu District’s nearly 12 million square miles of geographical area of responsibility – the largest in USACE – crosses five time zones and the international dateline. Centrally located at district headquarters at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, are the REC’s three departments, composed of architects, planners, and mechanical, electrical, and civil engineers. The center also provides cost, construction design, and value engineering services. According to Kevin Araki, REC chief, the center is an invaluable resource for USACE, Honolulu District, and U.S. strategic partners in the district’s expansive Indo-Pacific area of responsibility. “Developing and maintaining technical competency through experience of design and construction project nuances for Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Hawaii, as well as having the stability of an experienced staff, enables the REC to mobilize experienced teams to help solve complex engineering problems regionally in an expeditious manner,” Araki said.

The sister districts, which also provide engineering services work on behalf of overseas U.S. military commands, utilize Honolulu District’s REC to learn and improve the quality, timeliness, and product cost and services that are provided to local customers in order to exceed stakeholder expectations. The REC delivers world-class expertise in all architectural and engineering disciplines necessary to assure quality products are delivered to valued customers in the Military Construction, Civil Works, and Interagency and International Services programs. The center’s services range from interpretation of technical criteria and independent technical reviews during the planning and design stages of a project to shop-drawing review, responding to contractor’s inquiries, and resolution of technical issues during construction phases of projects. Previously known as the Regional Technical Center (RTC), the branch was combined with the district’s Regional Design Center in 2015 to form the REC. “This [consolidation] reduces the risk from fluctuations in design and high-level technical review workloads by combining the staff with the flexibility and versatility to take on both design and technical reviews,” said Barnes. “The development of our relationships with and knowledge of the engineering practices of our sister districts, along with knowing specific project histories, continues to be valuable,” Barnes concluded. “For example, the Yongsan Relocation Program [movement of the U.S. 8th Army to Pyongtaek from Seoul] spanned more than a decade in design and construction. The REC was heavily involved in providing our engineering services to Far East District for this massive transition.” n 109



Japan District Commander Col. Thomas J. Verell Jr., and members of the JED staff meet with their partners from the Japanese Ministry of Defense to address concerns and find common ground to move forward on the various programs and projects on which they collaborate.



onstruction in Japan is a different challenge than other areas in the world. The Japan District (JED) has taken revolutionary steps to meet those challenges head on with the input and assistance of U.S.-Japanese Alliance partners. United facilities criteria (UFCs) that are commonly used throughout the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) enterprise are not always the best options to use in fully developed overseas construction projects. The use of certain UFCs comes with increased costs and unfamiliar standards for Japanese contractors, which make USACE projects less attractive for local contractors, and future repair time and costs are drastically increased. JED has developed acceptable alternatives with

input from our bilateral partners, military and civilian stakeholders, and support of the USACE enterprise.

THIS PROCESS DID NOT HAPPEN OVERNIGHT JED’s Engineering Division served as the spearhead of this project while working with the Construction Division internally to identify the UFCs that were most problematic or that had workarounds through construction methods already established. “In the past few years, JED has addressed the difficulties in both awarding construction contracts and awarding the projects within the programmed amount, or budget,” said Stephen J. Karwan, JED Engineering Division chief. “JED studied the problem, and recognized the need to enable a greater use of local materials that local laborers, contractors, and suppliers are familiar with, instead of overburdening them with typical U.S. technical requirements.” Outreach with military stakeholders, Japanese partners and contractors, and the USACE enterprise assisted JED in identifying UFCs that could be adjusted. These adjustments are not made wholesale. There is a deliberate and thorough vetting process of each UFC to verify whether it can be adjusted to Japanese construction standards and if it should be changed. “We call each of these ‘acceptable alternatives’ because they have been evaluated to be an acceptable, but ‘alternate’ means to meet the quality and performance requirements of our projects,” said Karwan. 111


“Acceptable alternatives make JED’s projects more attractive and competitive to prime contractors and their subs; this lowers the first cost and life cycle costs of the projects for our partnered stakeholders.” A great example of this process was the establishment of the Fire Protection Working Group, which brought together a bilateral group of fire protection experts, engineers, and firefighters to learn more about the difference between the UFCs and Japanese building standards and which could be combined or approved as an acceptable alternative. JED’s Construction Division was an eager proponent of this initiative, using this opportunity to re-think work standards and adapting processes to deliver projects efficiently with the same or higher quality. “We reviewed the necessity for all-remote inspections and determined which authorities could be delegated,” said Lee Seeba, JED

Construction Division chief. “This was especially valuable during the current COVID-19 pandemic. For example, several fire protection inspections normally conducted by remote authorities were modified to use video teleconferencing and local personnel.” JED collaborated with their partners at the Japanese Ministry of Defense to identify barriers Japanese contractors were encountering with bidding for Alliance Program projects. The JED Public Affairs Office updated the “Business with Us” tab on the district’s webpage to include all project details in Japanese, with the recommended changes. The district’s page was then shared with the Japanese Ministry of Defense and U.S. Naval Facilities Far East to link on their respective pages. This has increased visibility on the upcoming and available projects for bid, and better coordinates programs to avoid programmatic bid-stacking. n



nlike the majority of districts in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Japan District (JED) has not been directly involved in the COVID-19 USACE-wide response and support. JED’s response to the pandemic has been to find innovative ways to deliver the program. The district is the primary construction agent for the Department of Defense in Japan, continuing the construction of projects and programs that support the U.S.-Japan Alliance that are vital to the peace and security of the Indo-Pacific region. JED has taken steps to continue the advertisement, management, and construction of its programs and projects while being at 90% telework and alternate-duty location. This has been a bilateral team effort, highlighting the challenges that are faced in Japan. As the COVID-19 virus spread around the world, including in Japan, the district was forced to reassess its current policies and procedures. The pandemic prevented business as usual, and without substantial changes, the mission would fail. The JED team not only stepped up to prevent the failure of the mission, but actually revolutionized and designed new processes moving forward. “JED has been able to continue to deliver projects in the COVID environment,” said Stephen J. Karwan, JED Engineering Division chief. “Our partnered architect-engineering firms from the U.S. have switched to virtual design-review meetings, and have increased the use of their Japanese sub-consultants. Our JED project delivery teams have quickly been able to adapt to these changes, and most of our projects in design have faced no disruption whatsoever due to COVID.”

JED’s revolutionary alliance approach to construction also enabled fewer delivery impacts due to greater use of acceptable alternatives and Japanese industry standards, which significantly reduced reliance on U.S. materials, installers, and inspectors. The security, plans, and operations team coordinated with their counterparts in USACE, U.S. Forces Japan, U.S. Army Japan, U.S. Army Garrison Japan, and USACE’s Pacific Ocean Division. The Security Office became the nerve center of the organization by coordinating and compiling the barrage of guidance, policy, and orders from multiple sources, which were often at odds with each other or did not specifically address the COVID-19 environment in Japan. The commander used this information and other guidance to inform JED’s geographically dispersed workforce by using multiple weekly virtual town halls and audio recordings to ensure everyone was receiving the latest guidance and direction. Information flow was vital to the success of the organization, since the majority of the area and resident offices are located on other military service installations with different policies and guidance. “I am very proud of our team’s agility, particularly because our team members were simultaneously adapting to teleworking from home,” Karwan added. During this COVID-19 crisis, the district’s Construction Division was challenged to continue the effort while maintaining the safety of all. “We started by following the rules and being closely aligned with the rule-makers to follow the proper restrictions and achieve the safety standards without seriously affecting the mission,” said Lee Seeba, JED Construction Division chief. n 113

TRANSATLANTIC DIVISION TRANSATLANTIC DIVISION P.O. Box 2250 Winchester, VA 22604-1450 TAD-PUBLIC-AFFAIRS@usace.army.mil (540) 667-3173 www.tad.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/USACETransatlanticDivision MIDDLE EAST DISTRICT P.O. Box 2250 Winchester, VA 22604-1450 dll-cetam-pao@usace.army.mil (540) 665-4085 www.tam.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/USACEmed


AFGHANISTAN DISTRICT HQ-USACE-TAA (BAGRAM) APO AE 09354-1053 (540) 542-1508 dll-cetaa-pao@usace.army.mil www.tad.usace.army.mil/About/TransatlanticAfghanistanDistrict/ www.facebook.com/USACEAfghanDistrict/ twitter.com/USACEinAfg



ssayons!” is the motto of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). It means, “Let us try.” However, if you’re saying the translation correctly, it is more accurate to say, “Let us try,” meaning USACE will get it done when others can’t. That’s true in the continental United States, where USACE builds and maintains locks and dams, responds to natural disasters, and builds emergency hospitals in response to a global pandemic. And it’s also true in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility, where USACE’s Transatlantic Division (TAD) provides engineering, construction, and related services to the U.S. military and allied nations in one of the most volatile construction environments in the world. With oversight of well over $6 billion in projects critical to U.S. and allied nations’ national security, two districts, a task force, and several specialized capabilities, TAD is truly USACE’s tip of the spear, when it comes to supporting the warfighter.


TAD provides services to U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) forces and other U.S. government agencies operating in the Middle East. Additionally, TAD members provide these services to allied nations as part of the Foreign Military Sales program and provide construction support in Iraq and Afghanistan to help promote regional stability. They accomplish this through two districts, the Transatlantic Middle East District (TAM) and the Transatlantic Afghanistan District (TAA), as well as Task Force Essayons (TFE), which specializes in providing “just in time engineering solutions” directly to the warfighter. The Transatlantic Middle East District is currently executing approximately $5.3 billion worth of military construction and Foreign Military Sales projects across an area that’s almost as large as the continental United States, crossing multiple time zones. With projects in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Iraq, TAM supports not only CENTCOM and



its components but plays a valuable role in work critical to the national defense strategies of allied nation partners. Additionally, the district is home to several specialized capabilities including: the Aircraft Hangar Fire Protection Technical Center of Expertise, Center of Standardization for Nonpermanent Facilities (COS), the USACE Contingency Deployment Center (UCDC), and an Army Facilities Component Systems (AFCS) branch. These capabilities are available not only to the DOD but also to allied partners, non-governmental organizations, and other government agencies that might have a need for their expertise. The Aircraft Hangar Fire Protection Center of Expertise provides gold-standard advice on fire suppression systems, testing, and inspection used in aircraft hangars, where a single fire can cause damage in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The COS can provide off-the-shelf designs to meet virtually any facilities requirement from barracks to medical facilities to hardened operations centers (Hardened refers to a facility being designed and constructed to withstand direct or indirect fire. The significance of operations centers or any facility is that it makes them less vulnerable to disruption by enemy forces). Utilizing the COS can save customers valuable time and construction costs on facilities that can last up to 30 years. According to its website, the UCDC provides “soup to nuts” support for USACE personnel deploying for contingency operations. This includes screening resumes and hiring, conducting medical screenings, and other pre-deployment processing as well as administrative actions while deployed and all post-deployment actions, ensuring those who deploy with USACE are taken care of at every step in the process.

Project handover ceremony for the completion of the Comp Shahin Substation and base connection.

The AFCS branch, one of only four in the DOD, has design agents who work underneath the Engineering Research and Development Center’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory. The AFCS program helps TAD support combatant commands and the Army service component commands by providing them with theater construction planning and designs. As TAD’s enduring district, TAM’s role in national defense and its stable presence in the region make it indispensable to USACE’s ability to provide frontline support to the warfighter. “One of the things I’m most proud of is our history,” said TAM Commander Col. Philip Secrist. “We’ve been around for almost 70 years. In many cases, our stakeholders can choose whether or not to utilize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their projects, and we wouldn’t exist if they didn’t choose us time and again. We are not always the cheapest option, and we’re up front about that. But we are the best value option and bring with us the expertise and reputation of the entire U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.” The Transatlantic Afghanistan District is a contingency district that has existed since 2004. It supports operations Resolute Support and Freedom’s Sentinel by accomplishing construction for U.S. Forces Afghanistan Combined Security Transition Command and for the departments of Defense and State. TAA provides engineering solutions and expertise in support of U.S. efforts to help build a stronger Afghanistan. Roughly 125 members in 115



total, these deployed civilians and service members perform project management, engineering, and construction throughout Afghanistan and provide Afghanistan with facilities and infrastructure to strengthen its security posture and create economic opportunities for years to come. Among its major programs are: • The Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund program, which helps improve security, increase governance, and promote economic development by providing reliable and sustainable infrastructure to the people of Afghanistan. Projects deliver water and electrical infrastructure. • The Afghan National Defense Security Forces program, which is geared to provide quality facilities, improve infrastructure management systems, and enhance combat and general engineer capabilities for the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police. The Afghanistan District uses its engineering expertise to assist in building a stronger Afghanistan by focusing on the following priorities: • Executing the program: Design, contract for, and construct facilities and solutions for Afghanistan’s engineering challenges. • Building capacity: Provide opportunities to grow the Afghanistan construction sector. • Managing transition: Turn over facilities and infrastructure to the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to use, operate, and maintain independently. 116

One of the major projects completed under the Transatlantic Division in 2020 was a headquarters building that was part of the SHIELD 5 Missile Defense Project in Qatar.

Task Force Essayons was developed as an agile and responsive organization that provides forward-deployed engineering and comprehensive services to the warfighter. The TFE model includes lines of effort that provide project management, technical design, construction and environmental contract oversight, base camp master planning, geographic information system (GIS) mapping, environmental compliance, real estate, and operational services for deployed U.S. and coalition units. TFE is the “One door to the Corps” for the warfighter in support of the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) and Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). Its Project Management Branch is currently tracking 83 operations and maintenance-Army-funded projects totaling $40.1 million, and four counter-Daesh Train and Equip Fund (CTEF) projects totaling $2.9 million at various phases of development. CENTCOM issued a request for forces in April 2017, asking for the support of TFE for CJTF-OIR, Special Operations Joint Task ForceOIR, U.S. Army Central (ARCENT), and other mission partners in the combined joint operations area (CJOA), which includes Iraq and Syria. Since that time, TFE has completed 321 projects, 19 base camp master



Within the Transatlantic Division, there are several unique capabilities such as the Technical Center of Expertise for Hangar Fire Protection, above.

plans, and 90 environmental reports. The TFE model has been such a successful supporting unit that ARCENT is looking to maintain its capability and capacity going forward in its enduring mission. “Our coalition partners recognize TFE as an invaluable asset to the mission,” said Col. John Haas, the TFE commander. “They recognize that TFE provides USACE quality on the warfighter timeline.” This is true of many projects in theater, with one example being Erbil Air Base in Iraq, where TFE is bringing that USACE quality to the deteriorating airfield. The taxiway enables many coalition partners in their mission success, and this project will support continuity of operations and the defeat of Daesh. Primary support for the warfighter includes force protection; life, health, and safety; power surety; storm water management; and quality of life. TFE maintains the multiyear integrated priority list for the CJTF Engineer (CJENG) based on whether the project is mission critical, essential, or enhancing. These imperatives are the foundation of the Joint Facilities Utilization Board (JFUB). Of significant importance to CJENG is that TFE provides cradleto-grave oversight of all projects as they progress through the JFUB process. This process helps mission partners get involved in the execution of their requiring activities to accomplish construction effects within the CJOA and to provide base operating support integrator engineer focus on requests for support.

Through TFE’s tremendous ability, CJTF-OIR is now in the latter stages of their mission and have claimed success in the degradation of ISIS’ capabilities and the building of partner capacity for the Iraqi security forces, so they can maintain the security and safety of the Iraqi people. The TFE team is proud to have been a part of the accomplishment and is poised to provide the agile responsive model for our mission partners. TFE is building strong to support the warfighter. The final and most recent piece of the Transatlantic Division’s mission scope is dedicated support to U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Different divisions within USACE are responsible for different combatant commands within the U.S. military. TAD acts as a liaison to facilitate those command-to-command relationships when SOCOM is involved in order to synchronize those programs across USACE. “TAD’s day-to-day execution for SOF [special operations forces] is relatively small compared to other major subordinate comands; however, we offer a unique and dispassionate perspective of SOF engineering,” said Brandon Chance, a TAD program manager who works SOCOM programs in the division. “Also, TAD’s wealth of contingency engineering experience, combined with a robust operations staff, provides significant insights and resources for the SOF engineer.” Currently, SOCOM is leveraging TAD’s experience in crafting its internal engineering standards document, titled, “SOCOM Spearbook,” which will supplement other COCOM standards (including CENTCOM’s “Sandbook”), as well as serving as a “how-to” reference for the SOF engineer. With ongoing support to contingency operations, TAD continues to look for ways it can provide value to CENTCOM, SOCOM, and other key stakeholders. n 1 17


FINDING THE SCRATCH BEFORE STARTING FROM SCRATCH How the Afghanistan District makes things happen on construction sites in a warzone


BY LYNDA YE Z ZI, Transatlantic Division Public Af fairs


magine baking a cake from scratch and needing flour. Now imagine having to grow the wheat, harvest it, and then turn it into flour before you can use it. Building infrastructure is just about as complicated for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) team’s current design-build construction projects for the Afghanistan air force (AAF). Mazār-e Sharīf is a province in northern Afghanistan, at the base of the Hindu-Kush Mountains and about 35 miles south of the border with Uzbekistan. The AAF aviation project is being funded through both NATO and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) Funds to support current AAF air wing operations, and in anticipation of expected future growth. The upgrades are necessary to ensure there is adequate parking and ramp space for the additional aircraft. Plus the existing support facilities are insufficient to meet aircraft maintenance/ops needs. In addition to the new aircraft facilities, construction is occurring in both the operations (Ops) and life support area (LSA), including building officer and enlisted barracks, a dining facility, administration buildings, and a new waste water treatment plant. Prior to returning to her home district, Sheila McCarthy, USACE project manager, oversaw the $43 million project, from project-justification phase through design and contracting, and into actual construction. She said it was the commitment, strength, and


Work on new UH-60 hangars continues on the Mazar-e Sharif Aviation Project. When complete, the hangars will house helicopters for the Afghan air force (AAF). These are part of a much larger project that will mark a significant improvement in the ability to operate the UH-60 Black Hawks as well as improve the quality of life for AAF members.

communication of the entire project team that led to the success of the project. Like any project that is designed and constructed within a contingency area, the project is fraught with hurdles that projects normally don’t encounter on U.S. soils. Typically, construction projects within the United States don’t come across unexploded ordnance or roadside bombs, armed guards patrolling the construction site, and rocket attacks. But even more basic than that is the contractor’s inability to obtain building materials quickly and easily. For example, although the area is extensively irrigated by the Balkh River, there is no readily available supply of water at the multi-phase Aviation Enhancement Project site under construction. The Afghan contractors working with USACE had to dig a well in order to have enough water on site for the enormous amount of concrete needed to construct the new taxiway, aircraft aprons, aircraft hangars, and a munitions storage area in anticipation of a total capacity of 43 aircraft. According to McCarthy, the contractor has had to establish two concrete batch plants on the project site to ensure the concrete was

plentiful, readily available, and within the distance necessary to place the concrete. She said in addition to the need for an adequate water supply for construction, the team is also dealing with soil issues: The area is riddled with collapsible soils. “Extensive rains and flooding cause minerals to leach from the soils, causing the ground to collapse. All construction will require mitigation to alleviate this type of soil from the project site,” McCarthy said. “This means that all unstable soils must be excavated to a depth identified in the contract, removed from the construction site, and backfilled with suitable structural soil and compacted to a specific density to ensure the structural stability of both the taxiway and aprons, but [also] the buildings’ foundations as well.” Besides having to find basic construction materials, there are other “from-scratch basics” that the USACE team must work through for a build site in Afghanistan versus working on a construction site in the states, including “long lead times, delivery, and access,” according to USACE construction representative Tony Soliz, who managed the construction site from the time of the site survey to when the project was finally turned over. “Our construction specifications are written to both U.S. and European construction codes,” said Soliz. “Many of the complex systems [e.g., generators, HVAC systems, etc.] cannot be sourced from within the country but have to [be] ordered and delivered from other countries. Delivery of equipment and materials comes via land, sea, and/or air, depending on which country they are coming from. Long-haul, overland travel can come through the northern countries surrounding Afghanistan so delays at the international borders can be extensive. Once in Afghanistan, travel within the country can be dangerous, fraught with checkpoints, IEDs [improvised explosive devices], and bad guys.” Finally, Soliz said access onto an Afghan military base can require hours or days depending on the base security.

“Concrete can only stay within a concrete truck for about 90 minutes from the plant to the project site before it starts to harden and becomes unusable for the project,” Soliz said. In case it isn’t readily apparent, the Afghanistan District team and the contractors hired to construct the infrastructure all live and work in an active war zone. According to Soliz, safety and security are of utmost importance and aren’t taken lightly by anyone working construction in the country. “Due to the inherent dangers associated with simply traveling within Afghanistan, USACE personnel are not able to oversee construction on a daily basis, so our local national quality assurance representatives [LNQAs] oversee it for us,” Soliz said. “Our LNQAs are Afghan citizens hired to be our eyes and ears on a project site. They know the Afghan culture, can speak the language, and can easily transmit information to and from the construction team.” The work done by the LNQAs is truly remarkable because they are in danger going to and from the project site on a daily basis, and they are placed in further danger from having known affiliation with the coalition forces. However, Soliz said they understand the risks, but they are gaining valuable experience from working for USACE. “When they come to work for USACE, we train our LNQAs on our construction and turn-over procedures. They gain valuable skills in our processes, three-phase inspections, testing, and all construction categories, such as earthwork, concrete, electrical, plumbing. This on-the-job training will provide them with knowledge of construction should they seek employment with other companies. That is yet another way the Afghanistan District continues to develop capability within the country for future infrastructure stability,” he said. The estimated cost for the facilities is approximately $43 million, but the buildings and the work being done are priceless for the AAF pilots and support personnel who will occupy the new facilities, as well as for the LNQAs who will be able to use their experience for future jobs once the AAF aviation project is completed. n



egional turmoil and change have been a constant for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Transatlantic Middle East District (TAM). With well over $6 billion in projects covering the entirety of U.S. Central Command’s (CENTCOM) area of responsibility, offices in different time zones spread out over 11 countries, and some of the most unforgiving construction environments in the world, district personnel thought they had seen and met every challenge thrown their way. And then COVID-19 hit. “Our mission requires a great deal of close coordination with a lot of different entities,” said Col. Philip Secrist, TAM’s commander. “Most USACE districts are used to working with state and local governments.

One of our Foreign Military Sales cases requires us to coordinate with the State Department, Department of Defense, foreign governments, and their corresponding military leaders. Additionally, we’re sometimes working with non-U.S. contractors who might not be used to our way of doing things. Many of our projects are critical to the national security of the nations we’re working with, so when the pandemic hit, we needed to make sure we could not only continue our work, but continue it safely.” The country of Qatar, where TAM is constructing missile defense infrastructure among other programs, is but one example of those efforts. When the country restricted movements on non-essential 119



David Roldan, a mechanical engineer with the Middle East District, conducts an assessment of a facility in northern Virginia to determine its suitability for COVID-19 response. A facility assessment does not mean that a facility will be used.

businesses, they exempted military and construction; however, those exemptions didn’t mean the projects would just continue with business as usual. Tony Oby, TAM’s area engineer in Qatar, explained the effort that went into ensuring construction efforts could safely continue. “The initial days of COVID-19 were a mix of confusion and uncertainty. Although we had an exemption, our contractors still required proper documentation permitting them to continue work beyond the limited hours allowed,” Oby said. “We worked closely with the Qatari government to get the necessary documentation. Additionally, there was an area in Qatar that housed thousands of laborers that was quarantined and no one was allowed out. This affected sub-contractors living in the region as well as the ability to receive supplies that were stored there. Fortunately, we have an outstanding administrative staff that stayed on top of all the waiver paperwork and were very proactive contracting personnel, so we’re optimistic our project delivery dates will remain as they were prior to COVID.” Each country where TAM operates faced similar circumstances, but there were unique challenges. “In Kuwait, we’re working projects for the Kuwait Ministry of Defense as well as projects for the U.S. Army and Air Force in Kuwait,” explained Hamed Issa, the district’s senior program manager in Kuwait. “So, we need to work with the Ministry of Health to make sure we’re complying with their guidelines, but also with our military customers on base access and any project delays occurring while access is restricted. In 120

our case, there are things beyond our control but we’ve been proactive in our engagement with stakeholders and the contractors to ensure we’re able to work as soon as restrictions are lifted. Additionally, we’ve been working with the Kuwaitis on possible construction of COVID medical facilities.” In Bahrain, where the district has recently finished several major projects including a steel pier and a new medical and dental clinic, the work impact wasn’t as great, but the staff did feel it personally. “We’re a really tight office,” said Capt. Grant Wanamaker, a forward-deployed project manager in Bahrain. “When you’re used to seeing each other every day and you suddenly switch to telework, it can wear on you.” Despite the tyranny of distance, the office still managed the program as a team. Wanamaker’s wife, Emma, even made masks for the entire Bahrain team. “We had to manage bringing in over 900 contractors every day. This included transportation, reporting residence information, contact-tracing networks, and daily screenings. And we did all this without having to modify a single contract,” said Wanamaker. Meanwhile, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where TAM is working on multiple U.S. military construction and design projects valued at nearly $450 million, they temporarily had the opposite problem, with no workers to manage. “I guess you could say that one of our projects was negatively impacted for a positive reason,” said Joe Holm, the district’s resident engineer in UAE. “Our large aircraft maintenance hangar project contractor participated in constructing the UAE’s first COVID-19-specific testing and quarantine facilities as well as disinfection services for Dubai. They were chosen for their construction and renovation expertise as well as their ability to deliver products and services on a compressed schedule. As soon as that was completed, they were back to work for us, and because of their experience in delivering on a compressed schedule, they were able to get back on schedule very quickly.” Strong relationships also paid dividends for TAM in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where close coordination with the Royal Saudi naval forces and the Royal Saudi land forces helped keep major projects on track. Gharib Ibrahim, Saudi area engineer, said the situation gave him a chance to improve relations with his Saudi counterparts as they discussed COIVD response. “The Corps of Engineers has gained a strong reputation all over the world for their rapid ability to respond to the pandemic. My counterparts were interested in this and we discussed some of the hospital conversions USACE had done in the United States. With proper precautions, I was able to keep all of my normal engagements.” Impacts to projects weren’t the only thing the district had to consider during the pandemic. The district logistics team worked overtime to ensure personnel had all of the protective equipment they needed to carry out their mission. The information management team also worked hard to ensure connectivity when most personnel began teleworking.



Out of the entire organization, Capt. Aimee Valles, the deputy area engineer for the Saudi program, likely had the most up-close view of the coronavirus impact. Valles was on leave from Saudi Arabia when travel restrictions began to be implemented throughout the United States and the world. She was unable to return to her duties in Saudi Arabia and had to begin a 14-day quarantine. Immediately following the quarantine, she deployed to New York City, at the time one of the epicenters of the virus, to assist with USACE alternate care facility assessments. “I was on leave in Greece with my family when Europe was declared a level 3 travel threat. Within two days of that declaration, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia closed its borders and I was unable to return. I came back to the states and entered a 14-day quarantine. I spent 14 days watching the news every day and feeling helpless, so I was extremely grateful to have the opportunity to go to New York and make an impact. What a historic way to see the city for the first time,” said Valles. In addition to Valles, several engineers and other technical professionals from TAM worked outside their normal mission set assisting USACE’s Norfolk District with assessments in northern Virginia. “With USACE once again being called to engineer solutions to our nation’s toughest challenges, specifically assessing and converting facilities into alternate care facilities, there was a high demand for certain technical skills. Within TAM, many teammates expressed their interest in assisting USACE’s COVID-19 response; so when Norfolk District requested assistance, we had team members chomping at the bit to serve,” said Secrist.


Right: Naval Support Activity Bahrain (NSAB) along with personnel from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Bureau of Navy Medicine held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new medical and dental clinic on NSAB. The new 56,000-square-foot facility will substantially increase medical capacities and capabilities for sailors and their families stationed in Bahrain. Construction was overseen by USACE and completed in December 2019. Below right: One of the most important things within the division is sustaining the relationships they’ve built with their allied nation partners, whether that’s in Winchester, Virginia, or in the Middle East.

While the COVID pandemic will likely continue to impact operations for some time to come, the relationships and expertise that have sustained the Middle East District for almost seven decades will most certainly weather the storm as TAM continues building strong throughout the region. n

POWERING UP A COUNTRY, ONE TOWER AT A TIME BY LYNDA YE Z ZI, Transatlantic Division Public Af fairs


ffordable, reliable electricity is fundamental to modern life. Electricity lights the dark, cools and heats homes, powers life-saving and life-giving medical treatment facilities, is the foundation for industry development, and provides the pathway into the digital roads of finance, banking, and commerce that are traveled billions of times a day across the globe. In 2002, only 6% of Afghans had access to reliable electricity, according to estimates from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Today, that number has increased to approximately 43% – and that number is growing – thanks to the men and women of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Transatlantic Afghanistan District (TAA),

who have spent the past decade supporting the overall Afghanistan electrification program with a series of electrical towers and transmission lines constructed by USACE under the Northern Electrical Power System (NEPS) and the Southern Electrical Power System (SEPS). They are part of a rotating team of Army Soldiers and Department of the Army civil service volunteers engaged in a country-wide effort to improve the lives of Afghan citizens, improve the security and stability of the region, and spur economic growth and development. This multipronged and multinational effort includes completion of the national power grid for the country of Afghanistan. The $827 million program, comprised of the NEPS and the SEPS, was funded 121


by the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund (AIF) to provide much-needed infrastructure for the country’s power system. These projects included much more than simply running electric cables. The government of Afghanistan first had the responsibility for securing the right of way to the land, which USACE needed to construct approximately 11,800 electrical towers. The Afghanistan government also had to ensure the removal of trees, houses, barns, cattle sheds, and other structures within the legal limits of the transmission lines, and permanently connecting the power lines to a power source. The final AIF project was signed over to the Afghan Ministry of Energy and Water in September 2019, completing a decadelong program. Today, USACE continues to work on the power infrastructure in Afghanistan with USAID under the NEPS-SEPS Connector and SEPS Completion Program. This program expands the national power grid by connecting Afghanistan’s northeastern power grid with the southeastern power grid, as well as improvements to the existing southeastern grid. The project also includes the design and construction of seven new power substations to connect the transmission lines. USAID is funding a separate project constructing 300-plus miles of transmission line connecting the two networks. According to the USAID website, once complete in 2023, the NEPS-to-SEPS transmission system together will have the capability to provide affordable, reliable, and sustainable power to millions of underserved and unserved Afghans in major population centers.

WHOSE JOB IS IT TO TURN ON THE LIGHTS? Another objective under the USAID program is to provide technical assistance to the Afghan national electric utility Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS). USAID funded $770 million for the Power Transmission Expansion and Connectivity (PTEC) project and is working with USACE to expand and improve the DABS grid to increase access to electricity, while DABS will manage, operate, and maintain the national power system. Part of the USAID funding was for the procurement and installation of smart energy meters to help DABS identify the aggregated technical and commercial losses, because a longer-term USAID objective is to support the government of Afghanistan’s efforts to make the energy sector more attractive to private investors. 122

Jayez Zalmay, Power Program manager, visits the project site to discuss the control building for the Central Supply Depot base connection project with representatives from the Afghan national electric utility, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS).

As electrical towers and transmission lines are put in place, DABS will be responsible for energizing, operating, and maintaining the system. Through these capacity-building efforts, Afghan citizens will have greater access to more affordable and reliable electrical power that is administered by Afghans. Annette Evans, former deputy for Programs and Project Management for TAA, had been part of the power program from the beginning and spent three tours in Afghanistan helping to build the power program. She recently left the country after spending all of 2019 working to bring the AIF program across the finish line. “We are bringing electricity to parts of Afghanistan that have never had electricity before, and we’re ensuring the electricity to other parts of the country is stable and continuous, not intermittent as it has been historically,” Evans said. “We are part of a team that is contributing to a mission that is so much larger than ourselves. The magnitude at which we contribute here as part of this larger mission to improve security and stability for Afghanistan, but also so generations of Afghans can live a life they choose to live, is something I’ll never forget participating in. If kids can read by the light that we have provided, or get the medical care they need because the electricity is on in the hospital where they go … there just aren’t too many places where we can contribute to helping a country in the same way as we do here.”

IT’S ALSO ABOUT NATIONAL SECURITY … Evans said power connectivity is also a national security issue for Afghanistan. The NEPS/SEPS projects expand the availability of electrical grid power for military bases, businesses, and residents across the country, allowing government agencies to replace high-cost diesel generators used now to provide power, and giving families options other than burning wood and other environmentally unfriendly materials currently used to stay warm in the winter and provide fuel for cooking.




Above: Afghanistan highway, laying asphalt, ca. 1961-67. Although the current version of the Transatlantic Division was stood up relatively recently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a long history in the Middle East, including building roads in Afghanistan. Right: Members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Afghanistan District meet with their Afghan counterparts before inspecting power lines.

“Most of the Afghan National Defense [and] Security Force military installations currently power up using diesel generators, which is incredibly costly,” she said. “In addition, the transport of diesel is susceptible to corruption, so if we can connect many of these installations to the national grid, we can eliminate two things: One is a huge bill that NATO and the U.S. government pays, and two is eliminating the potential for corruption. Further, it’s better for the environment.”

BUILDING CAPACITY BY TRAINING LOCAL NATIONALS One of the least understood but greatest efforts on behalf of the USACE team in Afghanistan is what is known as “capacity-building,” according to Col. Chris Beck, commander of the Transatlantic Division, which is headquartered in Winchester, Virginia, and is the higher headquarters for TAA. “TAA’s revolving cadre of both military and civilian employees operates in a combat zone,” said Beck, “supplemented by Afghan citizens under the Local National Quality Assurance [LNQA] program. The LNQA program allows local Afghanistan nationals to assist the DOD workforce in construction oversight. The participation of Afghan citizens directly contributes to the long-term stability, security, and economic development of Afghanistan, with a goal of building the capacity of Afghan workers and companies to gain the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to sustain the projects once the U.S. and our allied partners are no longer participating in the electric-generating programs. “A significant benefit of our LNQA program is a workforce with the skills necessary for the Afghans to operate and maintain their newly constructed facilities,” Beck said. Afghan national Jayez Zalmay began working for the Afghanistan District in 2006 as a contractor in Kandahar, where he worked on dozens of large-scale projects for USACE. He is now part of the LNQA cadre, stationed in Kabul, where he is the senior program manager and lead engineer for the entire power program. Zalmay said, the “integrity to humanity and work ethics that comply with world standards and requirements” are what led him to work with

USACE. He said the experiences he’s gained are unlike anything that was available to him locally in Kandahar, where he lived. Through his work with USACE and the various teams he interacts with, Zalmay has gained a broad understanding of responsibilities required for a senior program manager and local national lead. He also said his improved knowledge of construction and communication skills “are major important things that I found in myself and will help me to accomplish my duties in a good manner.” He spends his days monitoring the work of the LNQA representatives to assure the work being accomplished is according to design and contract requirements, and managing day-to-day operational aspects of a project site and a project team. “Our projects are necessary for the Afghan government. Electricity plays an important role in the development of a country. Therefore, we, as a team, do our best to provide proper and sustainable electricity to our people. It feels really good when you see that the overall quality of life of your fellow citizens are improved as a direct result of your efforts. Completing all of the essential works will bring positive changes [to Afghanistan],” Zalmay said. Zalmay acknowledges there is an element of personal safety involved in this work; however, he said the Afghan nationals working on the program have learned to reconcile their feelings about that with the work they are doing to improve the lives of their fellow citizens. “We know the mission is risky, but our duty is to our people, who need us to work for them,” he said. “As long as we are alive, this is our obligation – to keep ourselves and our team safe while serving our people.” Zalmay said he and his fellow LNQAs understand the need to fully embrace all that this ongoing project is doing to further develop Afghanistan. “Power is one of the greatest scientific innovations of mankind and is now an important part of our lives. Modern energy services are crucial for economic development and prosperity, and play a key role in ensuring regional stability and security around the world,” he said. “I believe the Power Program in Afghanistan will balance out the power, improve its quality, reduce the likelihood of outages, and finally will improve the quality of life for my fellow citizens. If we count the benefits of the Power Program [to Afghanistan], we could write a book.”

WE’VE BEEN DOING THIS FOR A WHILE NOW … The USACE mission in Afghanistan isn’t new. During the 1960s, USAID sought USACE’s assistance in designing a new type of suspension bridge. While making their way to market or school, many Afghan 123


villagers risked falling to their deaths while attempting to cross flooded rivers on antiquated and unstable bridges. Engineers from the area office of the former TAD Gulf District designed a new type of bridge to solve the problem. And in an effort to allow for future construction, they ensured all building materials, except for the cables and connectors, were locally obtainable. USACE also oversaw a program to modernize Afghanistan’s primitive system of roads. Afghanistan’s highway system consisted of a 1,700-mile circle of rock-bed and dirt roads linking principal towns and cities. The Gulf District was tasked with the road-building effort and an Afghanistan area office was established at Kabul. To directly supervise the construction, the district activated the Kandahar Resident Office on Jan. 1, 1961. USACE oversaw the construction of a 96-mile spur from Kandahar to the border with Pakistan. The kickoff of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in October 2001 saw a six-person USACE forward engineer support team deploying with the Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps and working with that unit’s engineers during combat operations. As a result of the global war on terrorism, USACE expanded its operations to meet the engineering requirements resulting from the troop buildup for operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In fall 2002, USACE initiated a program to build barracks and related facilities for graduating battalions of the Afghanistan National Army and concurrently established the Afghanistan Area Office. As the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan increased, USACE provided project management, technical, contracting, and business support services to the region. It also established the USACE Deployment Center to prepare civilians for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. Although OEF ended in December 2014, after 13 years, the USACE mission continues even today under the dual umbrellas of NATO’s Resolute Support mission and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the U.S. counterterrorism mission. The men and women of TAA have a continuous presence in the country, delivering quality facilities for the

Afghan National Army and Police; providing critical civil infrastructure, such as electrical facilities for the Afghan government; and executing engineering and construction services to support a wide range of needs. The USACE projects and engineering teams employ the populace, helping build skilled human capital and promoting the stability of Afghanistan. Through TAA, the U.S. government is completing facilities that provide reliable infrastructure, such as power, to the local populace; and constructing facilities for the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police that help promote regional stability. TAA works in partnership with USAID and the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan to carry out these power programs. “We continue to take deliberate steps to ensure we engage early in the operational planning cycle, connect to our allied nation mission partners, and offer engineering solutions in what remains a dynamic and volatile environment,” according to Beck. “By continuing to station our workforce downrange in Afghanistan, we ensure our people are at those critical locations to best support our mission partners’ key priorities and increase their access to our USACE experts when needed. With our geographically dispersed programs spread across a theater still very much considered a combat zone, it’s imperative we have that capability to talk one on one with our partners when needed, and not be constrained by time zones or other impediments. “Today in Afghanistan, electricity allows a young girl to study at night after dark, allows a doctor to provide necessary medical treatment to patients with confidence, knowing the medical equipment in his office will be energized. It puts the internet, and therefore the world, at the fingertips of a student in a local school and lights up the night in cities and small towns across the country – something I’ve never seen before when flying across the country,” Beck concluded. “This was all made possible because of a U.S.-led mission to make power grid improvements meant to provide electricity to Afghan villages and provinces.” n



ask Force Essayons (TFE) was activated as a subordinate element of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Transatlantic Division (TAD) on May 19, 2017. TFE was a small advance team with engineering and construction skills for the United States and coalition forces of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) and is now a larger premier engineering and construction asset in theater, with personnel located across multiple bases in Iraq and Kuwait.

TFE continues supporting warfighters who have the important mission of defeating Daesh (aka the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) across the combined joint operations area (CJOA). TFE has become a key resource in ensuring mission success by planning, designing, facilitating, and expediting the delivery of critical projects in this contingency environment. TFE provides agile, responsive, forward-deployed master planning, environmental, engineering, construction, and project integration



Maj. Dan Killip (at left in foreground) and Joey Ball (second from right), master planners with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Task Force Essayons, conduct an Erbil Air Base airfield planning charrette with Italian soldiers.

support, as well as advising base commanders/staff and CJTF personnel in numerous aspects of project planning and development and environmental compliance. As with any assignment in that volatile part of the world, things don’t always go according to the mission statement. A U.S. contractor had been killed during an indirect fire attack on a base near Kirkuk in December 2019. Once confirmed that it had been perpetrated by the Iranian-backed militia group Kata’ib Hezbollah, the United States launched retaliatory air strikes on its known bases throughout Iraq. These strikes resulted in a two-day protest that included an attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The situation in Iraq escalated quickly in January. Earlier in December, then-TFE Commander Col. Paul Culberson and staff members developed contingency plans in case TFE needed to quickly leave Iraq and move operations to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. Two plans were developed – one, known as Operation Eagle Wind, stretched over five days, and the other one, Operation Eagle Gust, directed complete evacuation within 24 hours. Both operations were still being finalized when a U.S. drone air strike killed Iranian Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani at the Baghdad International Airport on Jan. 2, 2020. In the tense days that followed, TFE and the world watched as threats and promises were hurled back and forth through the news and social media. “You could cut the tension with a knife,” Culberson said, in describing the U.S.-Iranian standoff. Culberson initiated Operation Eagle Gust on Jan. 5. TFE personnel at offices in Taji, Union III, Erbil, and al Asad immediately began to dismantle their work areas, pack up what critical continuity equipment they could into shipping containers, and stuff as much personal gear into their duffel bags as possible. CJTF-OIR leadership ordered the retrograde of all non-essential personnel out

of Iraq the following day and coordinated a mass exodus from Union III after close indirect fire attacks. The majority of TFE personnel flew to Kuwait Jan. 6, followed by the remaining civilians the following day. On the morning of Jan. 8, Iran launched 15 ballistic missiles toward al Asad Air Base and Erbil Air Base, and 10 landed at al Asad while one hit the Erbil International Airport adjacent to the air base. No personnel were killed in the missile attacks that stretched on for more than an hour. During the two weeks following the missile strikes, TFE refocused from retrograde operations to the continuation of project planning and design, base camp master planning, coordination with stakeholders, and delivering the program. CJTF-OIR suspended work on all construction projects due to the heightened threat posture in Iraq, but the attack generated a significant increase in project development needs. U.S. coalition bases requested repair work for damaged facilities, force protection improvements for survivability, and site preparation for new strategic defenses, and CJTF-OIR initiated the re-posturing of forces throughout the theater and follow-on base transfers to the government of Iraq. Program managers worked with base engineers and requesting units on where to put bunkers, weapons systems, and new facilities. The Engineering Branch designed new structures, living areas, and dining facilities, and the Environmental Branch ensured all environmental considerations were addressed prior to the transfer of each base. Starting on Jan. 16, TFE personnel began moving back to their offices at Camp Taji, Iraq, but continued to experience dynamic change. The CJOA evolved and TFE relocated its headquarters twice. CJTF-OIR has recognized the increased capability of the Iraqi security forces (ISFs) and was re-postured to operate from fewer bases with fewer people, but remained committed to supporting ISFs and their fight against Daesh. Fewer bases does not mean less work. TFE currently tracks 92 active projects in all stages of development and completion, and will continue to provide U.S. Army Central, CJTF-OIR, and other stakeholders throughout Iraq with the best service and products possible. n 1 27

U.S. ARMY ENGINEER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER 3909 Halls Ferry Rd. Vicksburg, MS 39180-6199 (601) 636-3111 ERDCinfo@usace.army.mil www.erdc.usace.army.mil Facebook / Instagram / LinkedIn / Twitter / YouTube: @ArmyERDC The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has an exceptional R&D capability within its laboratories and centers. The Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) is the USACE premier research organization, developing innovative solutions and products that help solve the nation’s toughest engineering and environmental challenges in support of USACE’s key mission areas. ERDC is headquartered in Vicksburg, Mississippi, along with four of its seven laboratories: the Coastal and Hydraulics; Geotechnical and Structures; Environmental;

and Information Technology laboratories. Additional laboratories include the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory in Champaign, Illinois; Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, New Hampshire; and the Geospatial Research Laboratory in Alexandria, Virginia. ERDC uses state-of-the-art facilities, coupled with some of the world’s top engineers and scientists, to conduct research in unique competency areas for the Department of Defense (DOD) and the nation. These core competency areas include: • Civil and military engineering • Blast and weapons effects on structures and geo-materials • Battlespace terrain mapping and characterization • Cold regions science and engineering • Coastal, river, and environmental engineering • Military installations and infrastructure • Computational prototyping of military platforms In addition to USACE and DOD, ERDC conducts research for other federal agencies, state and municipal authorities, and with U.S. industries through innovative work agreements. ERDC discovers, develops, and delivers new ways to make the world safer and better every day.



he U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) is no stranger to tackling the nation’s toughest problems – it’s even inscribed in the command’s mission statement. So, when COVID-19 cases struck the United States, ERDC scientists, engineers, and even tradesmen were quick to respond with innovative solutions to aid the pandemic response. As leaders across the country faced the potential of overwhelmed hospital systems, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) stepped up to aid local, city, and state partners in developing alternate care facilities (ACFs) to handle a surge of patients. In the early stages of that effort, USACE leadership called on ERDC’s Directorate of Public Works (DPW) – electricians, welders, carpenters, and more – to come up with two makeshift hospital room prototypes. “The call went out, and DPW came running,” ERDC Commander Col. Teresa Schlosser said of the effort. “This project highlights a critical capability that ERDC has amongst our tradesmen. The artisanship they have is amazing and doesn’t get enough credit.” In less than two days, the crew constructed two working containerized medical solutions, one fashioned from a portable


storage unit and the other a 12x12 metal-frame room built from the ground up. “They knew this was a call to help our nation,” said Mike Channell, director of the ERDC Installation Support Division, which oversees DPW. “ERDC innovates on the fly, that’s what we do.” While the tradesmen were hammering away at the mock-up hospital rooms, researchers in the ERDC Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) were using cutting-edge technology to make the ACF process a little safer for their peers throughout USACE. One of the first steps in standing up an ACF is conducting an assessment of the possible hospital site. Often, that means sending in teams of USACE subject-matter experts to examine the buildings in person. However, during a pandemic, where more people gathering could mean an increased spread of coronavirus, the ERDC-ITL team realized it was time to introduce a safer, virtual option: augmented reality. Using live-streaming and mixed-reality overlays, a smaller group of engineers on site could share their findings with the larger group of subject-matter experts who worked remotely and wouldn’t have to set foot in the building.


Above: Caleb Willard, an engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Walla Walla District, uses augmented-reality tools developed at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center to assess a potential site for a COVID-19 alternate care facility (ACF) while working from home in April 2020. Above right: Kelly Irvin of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center uses augmented-reality technology developed in the Information Technology Laboratory to inspect a mock boiler room. The software is being used across the nation to assess potential sites for COVID-19 ACFs, while limiting the number of people who have to physically examine the facilities.

“Facility assessments are critical to the success of the ACF mission,” said Jonathan Boone, a research civil engineer on the augmented-reality project. “Having reachback, live-stream capabilities allows engineers and architects who are leading efforts from a ‘boots on the ground’ team perspective to get virtual support from other USACE subject-matter experts.” But augmented reality wasn’t the only computational solution to come from ERDC-ITL in response to COVID-19. Managed by ERDC, the Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP) also brought a powerful weapon to the fight against COVID-19: supercomputers. One major HPCMP study worked to determine how to safely airlift COVID-19-positive passengers to treatment. Researchers studied computational fluid dynamics of airflow, as well as the droplets within that airflow, to decide on the safest ways to transport infected patients, all while posing a minimal risk to aircrews and medical attendants. When it came time to investigate potential COVID-19 vaccines, supercomputers once again proved to be a useful tool. In conjunction with the U.S. Army Medical Command and the Walter Reed Army Research Institute, the HPCMP used high-performance computers located at ERDC and Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, to more quickly examine target proteins and their chemistry. Before HPCMP supercomputing

power, only 2 million vaccine options could be considered over a threeweek period, but with the help of the program, researchers were able to examine close to 40 million target compounds. Yet another modeling effort ensued when more than 40 ERDC researchers from multiple laboratories worked 16 hours a day as members of the COVID-19 Model and Analysis Team (C-MAT) to develop, operationalize, and deliver the most accurate and timely projections of COVID-19 spread possible, grounding the predictive modeling solidly on the best available data. The ERDC-Susceptible Exposed Infected Recovered, or ERDC-SEIR, model was developed over the course of several weeks, providing the foundation for the ERDC approach to several modeling efforts. The model forecasts are provided to the USACE Geospatial Task Force, which then summarizes outputs in order for the broader USACE team to advise federal, state, and local partners on decisions related to COVID-19 courses of action. “It’s the most comprehensive modeling platform we’ve worked on,” said Brandon Lafferty, Ph.D., an ERDC Environmental Laboratory (EL) researcher leading the team’s day-to-day operations. “It’s been used as a planning tool for building ACFs, and it has provided estimates as to how many infected patients states and counties [may] have.” ERDC-SEIR predictions have also been used in an effort to support Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 1. Three researchers from ERDC-EL are on an interagency detail to FEMA’s Region 1 Data Analytics Team. The team supplements the ERDC-SEIR model with information relevant to hospital resource needs to help FEMA request the resources necessary for response and recovery in the New England states. In such complex situations as a pandemic, researchers use a “model ensemble” approach, or a collection of models, to develop predicted outcomes. The idea behind this approach is that if several independently developed models point to a similar answer, the conclusion inspires greater confidence. The ERDC-SEIR was one of 16 models consulted to make national forecasts for total deaths, and one of four used in the national forecast ensemble for hospitalization rates. The ERDC-SEIR was also featured on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 model ensemble website, the first instance a model developed and maintained by the Department of Defense was included in the CDC ensemble. As of this writing, the ERDC-SEIR is still being used by the USACE Geospatial Task Force and FEMA Region 1 to inform decisions. The model will run autonomously as it receives data and will post results on the CDC website. n 129


Debris and sediment from post-wildfire flooding in New Mexico has completely filled this massive pond. Researchers at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory are improving numerical models to help better understand and manage post-wildfire flooding.



ildfires can be extremely destructive, resulting in a massive loss in property and even life. In many instances, post-wildfire flooding can be just as dangerous and damaging, destroying infrastructure and habitats miles away from burned areas. Researchers at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL) are improving numerical models to help better understand and manage the impact of debris flows.


Following a wildfire, flood risk is dramatically increased. Wildfires remove vegetation and alter soils, resulting in increased runoff and sediment transport. Post-wildfire recovery can take decades, posing potential long-term operation and management concerns for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and other federal, state, and local agencies. “What we’re trying to do here is take an engineering- and practical-based approach to post-wildfire flood risk management,” said Ian Floyd, a research physical scientist at CHL and principal investigator for the post-wildfire flood risk management team. “We want to get

“What we want to do is link the fire dynamic models directly into our USACE models, so that there is a seamless modeling effort that goes straight from that data set. Then we can initialize those modeling conditions for the fire and start generating hypothetical scenarios long before the fire is contained.” While this full integration is still a few years away, there are many other milestones on the horizon for Floyd and his team. “We have intermediate goals that will incrementally improve our capabilities over the next few years – whether that be model development, workshop development, training, or coordination with our districts – it’s really how we’ll get to that end point,” he said. Floyd says there’s more to explore further down the road, as well. “There’s a lot of basic research that we just don’t understand, such as exactly how fires alter soils and sediments — we don’t really understand it geomorphically,” said the principal investigator. “Long-term recovery requires long-term monitoring of the site, and so all of that together could bleed into a decade of research. “This flood risk management study is part of a broader congressional appropriation funding that looks at arid and semi-arid regions’ flood risk management problems,” Floyd concluded. “Although wildfires have been our primary focus, we do have other elements of things we are looking at that are very systematic problems in the western United States. The wildfires are a very important part of what we are doing, but it’s still one piece of a larger initiative – it’s one piece of a lot of research that we’re tying all together. We’re tackling a whole range of issues.” For now, future efforts will continue to focus on enhancing modeling capabilities to quantify post-wildfire impacts on hydrologic and hydraulic response, geomorphic evolution, and sedimentation process. n


better not only at flood risk management, but also at making a watershed or infrastructure better before you have a fire.” Following the Las Conchas wildfire in New Mexico in 2011, watersheds just upstream of the USACE-operated Cochiti Reservoir started shedding sediment at incredible rates, causing concern regarding how fires would not only impact operations and maintenance, but also management of the reservoir for the foreseeable future. A research and development statement of need was submitted to the Regional Sediment Management program, which then filtered down to Floyd and the rest of the CHL team. “We met with team members from the Albuquerque District, visited the site, and then really started to accumulate a lot of their concerns,” said Floyd. “We took that back to CHL and began searching for the lowest common denominators to solve this problem. “We wanted to be able to transport this anywhere in the western United States,” he said. “This isn’t just a problem in Albuquerque, as we’ve seen from the fires in California. We looked at our physics-based modeling and thought we could help. That really was the synthesis for this, and Albuquerque has been a player to this day.” The first step for the team was addressing a challenge identified in USACE models and adjusting them for the task at hand. “We noticed that they couldn’t handle the non-Newtonian physics that are usually seen in debris flows, mud flows, and floods after wildfires,” said Floyd. “We really have just gotten to where all of that is working.” The next step is to link the USACE models with those from other agencies, such as NASA and the U.S. Forest Service, in an effort to have real-time modeling to assist in emergency management. “Ultimately, we want models that are integrated from fire dynamic models all the way into our hydraulic and hydrology models,” he said.

Debris flows from post-wildfire flooding transported this Dixon Apple Orchard sign 8 miles away from the New Mexico orchard that was destroyed by wildfires and flooding in 2011. Researchers at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory are improving numerical models to help better understand and manage the impact of these debris flows in hopes of improving flood risk management and emergency management operations.




In an article in a 2008 issue of Environmental Science and Technology, researchers were able to calculate the costs associated with HABs, including “potential annual value losses in recreational water usage, waterfront real estate, spending on recovery of threatened and endangered species, and drinking water.” The researchers found that “the combined costs were approximately $2.2 billion annually as a result of eutrophication in U.S. freshwaters.” The growth of HABs can be exacerbated by a number of factors, but is primarily associated with excessive nutrient pollutants from agricultural runoff, wastewater/storm drains, residential fertilizers, and septic systems, or in certain environments, natural sources, such as sediments. Many types of blooms grow faster in warm temperatures and tend to peak during the hot summer months. In 2018, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) was authorized to perform research on scalable approaches for prevention, detection, and control of large HABs. With respect to HAB control, the use of technology to remove HABs from bodies of water has historically


cross the nation, harmful algal blooms (HABs) have diverse and far-reaching negative impacts on the environment and the economy. As a result, there is a growing interest in the ability to remove HABs from large bodies of water. Researchers at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) are performing studies to assess and optimize the scalability of one such promising approach for algae removal, the Harmful Algal Bloom Interception, Treatment, and Transformation System (HABITATS). HABs are overgrowths of natural algae that can damage the environment through oxygen depletion and, in some cases, production of toxins. These environmental effects can shut down large bodies of water for recreational use, affect tourism, impair commercial fishing, close businesses, and decrease property values. When HABs impact community water sources, they can also increase the cost of drinking-water treatment. Collectively, these effects can have significant economic impacts at regional levels.

Large yellow floating booms direct harmful algal blooms toward a skimmer, where the algae are collected and pumped into the processing area during testing of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Harmful Algal Bloom Interception, Treatment, and Transformation System (HABITATS) in Lake Okeechobee, Florida, July 2019.



During testing of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Harmful Algal Bloom Interception, Treatment, and Transformation System (HABITATS) at Lake Okeechobee, Florida, water is removed from the collected material, resulting in a concentration of the algae biomass.

been limited by costs and challenges with managing the resulting large quantities of algae biomass. The research at ERDC is being performed alongside other complimentary HAB-focused projects funded and managed through the USACE Aquatic Nuisance Species Research Program (ANSRP), which is also managed at ERDC. The ANSRP is the primary research and development program for addressing invasive and nuisance aquatic species that affect navigable waters, infrastructure, and associated water resources. “The ANSRP supports HAB research on early detection, prevention, and management, with scalable technologies as a key research piece, to reduce the occurrence and impact of HABs to USACE and the nation’s waterways,” said Christine VanZomeren, Ph.D., acting ANSRP program manager. In July 2019, ERDC scientists tested the HABITATS at Lake Okeechobee, Florida. The goal of the research was to develop and demonstrate a scalable capability to remove algae, algae-entrained nutrients, and potential algal toxins from large bodies of water. Additionally, scientists hoped to develop resource recovery methods that enable efficient and safe management of the resulting biomass while destroying any potential toxins. The HABITATS approach intercepts concentrated algae in bodies of water; filters and cleans the water source while further separating the algae; transforms the highly concentrated algae sludge into useful products, such as biofuels; and destroys potential harmful toxins. A dissolved air flotation process was successfully demonstrated for high throughput concentration of the algae that resulted in clean water output. Samples of concentrated

algae were sent to the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for conversion to biocrude oil using a high throughput hydrothermal liquefaction process, also destroying any potential toxins in the sludge. “The HABITATS research project is developing a capability to remove and efficiently dispose of large quantities of algal biomass and entrained nutrients, which may someday help protect ecosystems and communities from HAB events,” said Martin Page, Ph.D., material engineer at the ERDC’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory and HABITATS project manager. “By recovering resources in the process, the positive environmental impacts are achieved with reduced operations’ costs and footprint. Those aspects are key to developing a truly scalable tool that can be used by stakeholders as part of a broader strategy to mitigate HABs.” Results of the HABITATS study are published in an ERDC technical report, dated January 2020. The HABITATS project managers continue to collaborate with federal, state, and local agencies, as well as academic institutions and other key stakeholders on HAB research in an effort to minimize duplication of effort, maximize efficiencies, and ultimately save resources. In 2020, the HABITATS research team began working to optimize the integration of the HABITATS components in order to develop final design criteria for this innovative approach. The team will be working at pilot scale in Florida and New York, testing land-based systems and also building a shipboard mobile HABITATS prototype. This foundational research will support the transfer of the technology to stakeholders for consideration as one of many important tools in the fight against HABs. n 135

Professionals from the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, conduct a site assessment in Jacksonville, Alabama, April 8, 2020. Huntsville Center and Mobile District had joined forces to evaluate potential sites for alternate care facilities in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and in coordination with other federal, state, and local partners in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A PART OF THE SOLUTION Huntsville Center’s response effort to save lives

BY DAVID SAN MIGUEL , U.S. Army Engineering and Suppor t Center, Huntsville


orking hand in hand with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) geographic districts and divisions, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, is focusing its skill and expertise on supporting the nation’s efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Established in 1967 as the Huntsville Division, the organization was redesignated in 1995 to its present configuration because of an expanding mission to provide innovative engineering solutions to the Corps of Engineers’ and the nation’s toughest challenges.


Huntsville Center today boasts a 1,100-plus workforce of professional, highly skilled technical experts to execute and manage 40-plus programs and 4,500 to 5,000 ongoing projects globally. Its programs and projects touch the lives of almost every American, and in fiscal year 2019, the Huntsville Center awarded more than 4,800 contract actions, totaling more than $2.2 billion in obligations for its stakeholders. More than 43% of the $2 billion obligations were small business awards. That number pushed the Center over the $6 billion mark in obligations awarded to U.S. small businesses over the last decade. According to Albert “Chip” Marin III, Huntsville Center’s programs director, these programs and projects incorporate a broad spectrum of the


global enterprise covering five main lines of effort: energy, operational technology, environmental, medical, and base operations and facilities. “Through partnership with Department of Defense agencies, private industry, and global stakeholders, we deliver leading-edge engineering solutions in support of national interests around the globe,” he said. Included within these lines of effort are nine mandatory centers of expertise, five technical centers of expertise, and 17 centers of standardization. “In light of the pandemic,” Marin added, “it’s particularly noteworthy that the Huntsville Center is a medical support team that includes USACE’s Medical Facilities Mandatory Center of Expertise and Standardization (MX), and owns the technical experts who determine whether or not new construction designs meet code requirements for medical facilities.” It’s an expertise that drew the attention of federal, state, and local officials who anticipated the rapid spread of COVID-19 and expected a massive shortage of hospital bed space to treat those affected by the virus. According to Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, former chief of engineers and commanding general of USACE, the urgency of this response was largely driven by the rapid spread of COVID-19. The race against the virus is “an unbelievably complicated problem” that needs a simple solution, Semonite said.

Mobilized under the National Response Framework and Stafford Act, USACE was given mission assignments from FEMA to execute planning for expanding hospital capacity, first in New York and then elsewhere if called upon. Semonite had already acknowledged that “you can’t build hospitals in a couple of weeks,” and reached out to Huntsville Center to look into adapting existing facilities to address that challenge. “We received a request from the chief directly because we had the Medical Center of Expertise, and we leveraged the whole enterprise and pulled in the medical support teams from the Corps’ Little Rock and Mobile districts,” said Wade Doss, Huntsville Center engineering director. Doss said experts from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center were a growing part of the team, too. As USACE’s “go-to” enterprise for innovative solutions, the Huntsville Center brought in its subject-matter experts and technical engineering professionals to quickly develop strategies and concepts to help USACE’s geographic districts and divisions rapidly convert hotels, dorms, convention centers, and large, arena-type facilities into ICU-capable, or, as they’ve come to be known, alternate care facilities (ACFs). “Our mission was to come up with some conceptual site-adaptable designs, engineering and construction deliverables and artifacts that would help our districts and divisions execute faster when they get to these facilities,” Doss said. “The idea is to help FEMA and the state and local governments get ahead of the hospital bed shortage.” He added that his team of about 30-40 engineers and architects worked around the clock putting these concepts, sketches, and designs together, and drafting equipment lists, schedules, and performance work statements – all the things that engineers and constructors need to hit the ground running. “Time is of the essence,” he said. The Medical Facilities MX has the capability and experience in medical facilities design and outfitting needed to support USACE in its efforts to establish ACFs, and works closely with its stakeholders and partners to ensure that projects executed meet mission requirements. “Most of what we do is cutting-edge technology,” Marin said. “We are creating solutions for challenges that may not have existed before.” To develop these deliverables, Doss put together a team of construction experts and medical design, architect, and code-criteria experts and fleshed out the concepts, including sketches, functional layouts, performance work statements, equipment lists, etc. “We worked closely with FEMA, HHS, the NFPA [National Fire Protection Association] as well as the Corps’ geographic districts and divisions to support ACF projects across the country,” he said. And like the rest of the USACE enterprise, most of the work was done virtually through Skype, teleconferences, WebEx, and everything else. Doss said this entailed working every day, seven days a week, until all the districts and divisions got the deliverables they needed to turn concepts into reality. “Our goal was to get ahead of it and try to get these concepts laid out for hotels, dorms, and arenas – facilities we thought could be good fits and that would already have a lot of the infrastructure,” he said. “But our main goal was to help the districts’ assessment teams.” 1 37

Doss immediately put a core team together, and contacted Tony Travia, chief of the Medical Facilities MX, tasking him to join Semonite and meet with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to discuss these concepts to address the hospital bed shortage. “I had just gotten off self-isolation from a temporary duty assignment in Germany,” Travia said, “but I had already formulated what information we might need to deliver, reaching out and engaging partners outside the Corps, tapping into the command surgeon’s expertise and HHS to gather what information it already had about alternate care facilities. “By the time I boarded the plane, we probably had the 80% solution of what became the first hotel-to-health care concept, and started working the arena,” he said. By mid-March, the MX was fully engaged and actively developing concepts to convert arenas and hotels into ACFs. Travia explained the challenges the team had to overcome. “Our standard mission is to perform group design review and construction support for medical treatment facilities,” he said. “This is 138

Jelani Ingram, acting Architecture Branch chief with the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, takes notes during a site assessment in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, April 6, 2020, with a group including hospital staff and administrators, as well as his colleagues from Huntsville Center and an engineer with the Mobile District.

typically for new construction, though sometimes that may consist of additions or alterations.” He explained that these particular FEMA mission assignments entailed converting facilities not normally configured for the treatment of hospital patients. “Every district has those core competencies – engineering, architecture, and environmental – permitting disciplines,” Travia said. “But districts may only execute a medical project once in a decade and may not have the time to build that experience from scratch. That’s why

we help assess the medically unique aspects of the project – what is required to convert sites into facilities capable of delivering health care – so the districts can focus on what they do best.” Specifically, site assessments help determine whether health care requirements can be met based on the number of patients it would support, the proximity to nearby hospitals, utility requirements, air filtration and handling capacities, safety features for emergency response and egress, staging of ambulances, and parking availability. Another consideration is the time it would take to convert the facility for health care use. Normally, such conversions take between five days and two weeks, varying from site to site based on the level of patient care, number of patient beds, and the extent of work required. Doss explained how the Huntsville team developed facility assessment checklists that field engineers could take with them to determine whether those facilities identified by FEMA and state and local government could be converted into viable alternate care facilities. “We try to draft our deliverables around several scenarios,” he said, “COVID-19 and non-COVID patients. We’re working with local health officials to make it site adaptable. It all depends on the local officials: the mayor, the governor, local health officials, wherever you’re at in the country to see what they need.” Jelani A. Ingram, Huntsville Center’s acting branch chief of architecture, said the MX initially developed a checklist of items that a building/site needed to have in order for it to be considered a viable site for an ACF. “The checklist focused on all building conditions including architectural, site, MEP [mechanical, electrical, and plumbing] systems, fire protection, ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] accessibility, all building infrastructure, and that it met minimum code requirements,” he explained. “There were certain conditions that a building had to meet before a full-on assessment would be done.” Based on this checklist, these buildings could quickly be eliminated based on a “Go/No Go” evaluation. “If a structure did not have a fire suppression system it would automatically be considered a No Go and eliminated,” he said. Ingram admits, however, that in the case of an arena, such restrictions could be relaxed because they often encompass large open spaces and normally do not have sprinkler systems. “In such cases, other means to sprinkler the space would need to be explored,” he said. “Other factors that could quickly eliminate a building/site were no ADA accessibility routes for handicap and patient gurneys, elevators too small to fit a gurney, exposed asbestos, and if utilities were in need of extensive repair or replacement, that required long lead times on replacement parts,” Ingram said. The hospital and city members are responsible for providing USACE with potential buildings/sites for ACF conversion. They would decide if they wanted the ACF to accommodate COVID or non-COVID patients (most chose non-COVID, because it would be less taxing on their resources). “Our team would look at each site identifying first the No Go markers,” Ingram added. “Then, when those were eliminated, we would look at proximity to local hospitals because being able to staff these ACFs with health care providers was going to stretch hospital resources. So,

We would design and lay out the space showing patient beds/cots, nurses’ station, administrative support, storage, portable bathroom and shower facilities, and medical support areas. This information was packaged and handed over to our partner and then briefed to the governor. it was determined that ACF sites needed to be within at least a 10-mile radius of the hospital.” Since Huntsville Center is not bound by regional location and provides technical and engineering support to all USACE geographic districts, the Mobile District asked for support in its efforts with statewide assessments. “They looked to us to cover the northern part of Alabama,” he said. “We conducted our assessment in Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, and Calhoun counties [Anniston, Oxford]. Once a site was chosen, the team would go in and photograph the site, taking notice of open floor space, access points for patients, staff, and equipment. The team would assess the HVAC [heating, ventilation, and air conditioning] system, power requirements, and if there was back-up power to help run potential medical equipment.” That assessment included looking at the number of restrooms to accommodate staff and patients, and whether the facilities had a full kitchen and laundry room that could be utilized. “We found that abandoned or repurposed hospital spaces were the best locations, because the medical infrastructure was already in place,” Ingram said. “There would be nurse call, back-up power, critical power outlets, clean and dirty zones, private bathroom and showers, full kitchens, laundry, proper nurse stations, pharmacy, sterile storage, elevators for gurneys, ADA access, hazardous waste disposal, and security checkpoints. These facilities could be quickly recommissioned and brought back online.” The team assessed arenas, abandoned and repurposed hospital spaces, hotels, city meeting centers, and convention centers, trying to accommodate a wide range of options for the areas. “We had 48 hours: a day to assess two or three sites and a day to package the report that covered all major disciplines ranging from architectural/site, mechanical, electrical, and fire protection, and get it back to the Mobile District,” Ingram said. “We would design and lay out the space showing patient beds/cots, nurses’ station, administrative support, storage, portable bathroom and shower facilities, and medical support areas. This information was packaged and handed over to our partner and then briefed to the governor. “The process was pretty seamless. Once a site was chosen, the Corps was given 30 days to design, construct, and hand over an ACF to FEMA and local officials,” he said. “The Huntsville Center was critical to getting out early facility checklists, performance work statements, 139

business rules, points of contacts, and early design studies that the district could use and adapt on the ground.” Ingram explained that throughout the process, safety was paramount. “When we first started the assessments, we tried to keep 6 feet apart, based on CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommendations and guidelines from our safety department,” he said. “As things got worse, we moved to all personnel wearing masks because trying to maintain 6 feet [apart] in large groups was proving difficult, especially when trying to communicate to everyone or moving through small spaces.” Through it all, Ingram says it was a very humbling and awesome experience to be on calls with Semonite and to hear him discuss the impact of the work that had been done for the COVID response. “I was personally awestruck when our commander informed us that our work had made it all the way to brief the president and his COVID response team,” Ingram said. “Most of all, I was proud of my team of architects and engineers that worked tirelessly to get this information out to our people on the ground. This would not have been possible without their hard work and dedication to the mission and our country.” As the COVID-19 response efforts continued nationwide, Huntsville Center did more than innovate the assessment of ACF sites. 140

Paul McCarty, second from left, a mechanical engineer with the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, talks with Jelani Ingram, acting Architecture Branch chief, also with Huntsville Center, second from right, during a site assessment in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, April 6, 2020.

As the chief of Huntsville Center’s Systems-Cost Division, Amanda Pommerenck led her team to help develop a site assessment checklist that geographic districts and divisions could use in searching for suitable sites. “This was like a planning mission assignment where we put together a basic ‘how is this mission going to work and what are the site assessments going to look like,’” she said. “We came up with this process called ‘the binder’ – not a physical binder, but like an email detailing what health care facility and what various scenarios that we might be looking at,” Pommerenck said. “It was like building in the lessons learned as we went through the process. “Travia and one or two other folks were on the ground in New York,” she added. “But by the end of March, nobody was going anywhere. It was all virtual.” Pommerenck explained that each district has engineers, but what they don’t have is the medical expertise to build or change a non-medical facility to be used as an alternate care facility.

“So, they don’t need us to tell them how to build or convert the facility,” she said. “We simply provided them with all the things they needed to think about when they were conducting a site assessment.” A lot of the site assessment team’s questions centered on some sort of medical unique aspect. “We would take that question, deliberate, and write out our response,” Pommerenck said. “We would try to work that response into our planning document and provide them with more information so that we could better inform the next team doing a site assessment. “I get having plans for a conventional hospital or medical facility, but there are no real plans for an arena,” she explained. “You had to be adaptive – I mean it’s a hospital – treating COVID, non-COVID patients – what kind of facility does the community need to address?” Pommerenck added that these considerations had to be taken into account and worked through authorities on the ground (i.e., the fire department of Miami had different rules and regulations than the fire department in Chicago). “You’re dealing with different codes at different facilities, different populations of patients,” she said. “It’s a lot of work for the district, so what we were trying to do was get them off to a good start and provide them with guidelines for a solid foundation. “Travia and his team from the Medical Center of Expertise conducted the site assessments and could reach out to us to answer any construction and/or contract administration questions. “So about 40 people, between the MX, our construction and contract administration division, and a few from the Architecture Branch comprised the response team,” Pommerenck said. “It was a big group, and we did a good job of delineating everyone’s role. “As of now, we’ve conducted over 1,155 site assessments and have helped Corps districts construct 38 alternate care facilities,” she said. Pommerenck added that though things are tapering down, the team is prepared for any kind of resurgence of the virus. “We made a final update to the binder where we took all the requests for information, the lessons learned – what we’re calling a playbook – that will be posted onto the Corps’ website,” she said. “So, if we should have a resurgence in the fall, it’s not necessarily going to be the same folks in leadership; so we wanted to have a short-and-sweet document that says this is how or what we consider an alternate care facility. Here are the other agencies involved – [the Department of] Health and Human Services, FEMA, health facilities, planning agencies, etc. “This is the down-and-dirty playbook where all the documents can be found, points of contact, and lessons learned,” she added. Mission aside, Pommerenck admits that throughout the whole ordeal, there were times she felt overwhelmed. “It was such a negative event – the sickness. I have a doctor friend in Chicago, who, in the midst of all this, would share some of the horrible things that were happening to her patients,” she said. “And I found myself getting emotional about how important this mission was, how proud I was of the team, and how at a minute’s notice, we all just helped each other. I felt proud to be part of the solution – all the lives that we affected and perhaps saved.” n

BY THE NUMBERS Through partnership with Defense Department agencies, private industry, and global stakeholders, Huntsville Center delivers leading-edge engineering solutions in support of national interests around the globe. $3.78 billion in FY 18 annual obligations PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS • 5 lines of effort • 43 programs • 4,500-5,000 ongoing projects • 8 Mandatory Centers of Expertise • 6 Technical Centers of Expertise Huntsville Center’s workforce of professional, highly skilled technical experts is committed to providing innovative engineering solutions to unique, complex, global missions to meet the needs of stakeholders and the nation. 1,113 employees in three locations: Huntsville, Alabama; Omaha, Nebraska; and Alexandria, Virginia PROFESSIONALS: • 115 professional engineers • 51 project management professions • 20 Ph.D.s • 17 registered architects • 10 LEED-certified professionals • 24 registered interior designers • 660 acquisition workforce personnel • 11 certified energy managers • 6 cybersecurity professionals

U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville P.O. Box 1600 Huntsville, AL 35807 (256) 895-1694 www.hnc.usace.army.mil www.facebook.com/HuntsvilleCenter twitter.com/CEHNC


USACE brings together geospatial capabilities for the Army. BY JOYCE P. MARTIN, U.S. Army Geospatial Center


he U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Army Geospatial Center (AGC), a direct-reporting center, is equipping the Army to win against conflict by aligning geospatial data, standards, and development in such a way that lays the foundation for developments like 3D terrain data. Many people are not aware of USACE’s mission to research and develop geospatial technology for warfighters through AGC. The AGC has been creating an understanding of the where and what of natural features, cultural features, and military capabilities that has been fundamental to the success of the Army since 2009. “‘One World Terrain’ is developed in unison with the Army Geospatial Enterprise,” said Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, lead of the Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Team, Army Futures Command. “The single shareble geospatial framework, as well as the broader





Left: Ruben Hernandez, an Army Geospatial Center (AGC) physical scientist, collects aerial imagery at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California. The AGC specializes in the collection, use, storage, and dissemination of high-resolution aerial, terrestrial, 3D data representation and satellite imagery, and sensor data from electrooptical, hyperspectral, LIDAR, and other geo-sensors. Above: The Multifunctional Assessment Reconnaissance Vessel is a cutting-edge, unmanned vessel designed for surface and subsurface port inspections, obstacle detection, and precision data capture.

geospatial/GEOINT [geospatial-intelligence] community ensures a validity and accuracy of 3D data and tools.” Army operations are no different than FedEx, UPS, or DHL in that each manages planes, trains, and automobiles along with people, who need to come together in a place to make things happen. Similarly, the Geospatial Information Systems that the Army uses hinge upon “a where and a when,” said Col. David Hibner, AGC commander. “We work behind the scenes to produce guidance for standards, to fight for architecture that doesn’t drain the network, and to deliver data analytics to customers in and outside of the military services through warfighter support, systems acquisition and support, and the Geospatial Research Laboratory,” he said. The Warfighter Support Directorate provides geospatial engineering support tailored to Mission Command systems and Programs of Record. This team maintains and expands geospatial data that powers Army systems. The common map background repository is one AGC tool that geospatial specialists use for location data during military operations. The Systems Acquisition and Support Directorate synchronizes policies and manages geospatial integration and prototyping. This team supports the development and integration of the Army Geospatial Enterprise to lend geospatial intelligence expertise to develop and field tools for an array of military operations. And finally, the USACE Geospatial Research Laboratory, which is actually a part of the Engineering Research and Development Center, works in tandem, co-located in Alexandria, Virginia, to deliver cuttingedge geospatial research such as automated generation of 3D photogrammetry products for decision support and mission planning. This small, agile team sustains geospatial data, discovers better ways to conduct business through emerging technology, manages the Army Geospatial Enterprise, produces guidance for standards and architecture that doesn’t drain the network, and finally, delivers data analytics to customers in and outside of the services. n


ARMY GEOSPATIAL CENTER • Discovers innovative ways to leverage geospatial

operations. The resulting unclassified color imagery

and geospatial intelligence. The Urban Tactical

and LIDAR elevation data improve battlefield visual-

Planner, or UTP, assists military operation planning in

ization and operations.

urban areas around the world. The urban environment data is displayed on a monitor as an aggregate of

• Delivers safety of navigation/dam safety databases.

features that affect urban area operations, such as

The U.S. Inland Navigation System consists of more

building form and function, building height, vertical

than 25,000 miles of commercial navigable waterways

obstructions, terrain features, bridges, key cultural

of which over 8,000 miles are maintained by USACE

features, and landmarks.

in 22 states, including 276 lock chambers, with a total lift of 6,100 feet. To support efficient, effective, and

• Manages the raw data collected from various

safe navigation, the AGC develops, updates, manag-

sensors. The Engineering Route Studies, or ERS

es, and publishes electronic charts for the 8,000 miles

program, provides basic information on major surface

of inland waterways.

transportation systems in conjunction with terrain and climate data at the country or operational level to

• Sustains standards, certification baseline,

assist the warfighter in planning missions, including

and fielded systems. The Instrument Set,

military operations, humanitarian relief, transporta-

Reconnaissance and Surveying, commonly called

tion studies, and drug enforcement.

ENFIRE, is a digital suite of integrated commercial capabilities designed at the AGC to modernize the

• Produces high-resolution aerial, terrestrial, and

collection, analysis, and dissemination of informa-

satellite imagery. The BuckEye collection system

tion to support terrain shaping, reconnaissance,

rapidly collects, processes, and disseminates

and construction management for U.S. Army and

high-resolution geospatial data in support of tactical

Marine Corps users.

What is geospatial? Geospatial indicates data associated with a location. In the United States, people use geospatial data to find their favorite restaurants, avoid traffic, and to get to the closest gas station.


The Army’s Geospatial Information System, or GIS, is as complex as the GIS in the latest smartphones. The difference is Army locations are not always mapped out like places in a commercial district. The terrain traveled by a brigade combat team is far less familiar territory. The AGC does two things to help the military develop better location data – collect geospatial data and synchronize data standards. The Soldiers above are using ENFIRE, or an Instrument Set, Reconnaissance and Surveying kit, during their routine training. The kit increases the accuracy of their geospatial information with laser technology that works more quickly than traditional surveying.

Better location data means the military can capture it one time, then store and use information across military organizations.



Tows line up in Chain of Rocks Canal near St. Louis, Missouri.



he U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Institute for Water Resources (IWR) was established to provide forward-looking analysis, cutting-edge methodologies, and innovative tools to aid the Civil Works program. The institute strives to improve the performance of the USACE water resources program by examining and identifying current and future water resources problems and offering practical technology solutions and policy recommendations to USACE leaders and staff. It fulfills its mission through:


• analysis of emerging water resources trends and issues; • development, distribution, and training in the use of state-of-theart methods and models in the areas of planning, operations, and civil engineering; and • national data management of program and project information across civil works business lines. IWR has offices in five locations, with the IWR corporate office in Alexandria, Virginia. The mission of the Risk Management Center (RMC), with offices in Lakewood, Colorado, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is to: support the Civil Works program by providing a nationally consistent context for managing and assessing risks associated with dam and levee systems; support dam and levee safety activities throughout USACE; and develop policies, methods, tools, and systems to enhance these activities. The RMC also assists USACE Headquarters in technical and policy oversight of infrastructure safety decisions, serving as an independent technical adviser to USACE senior leadership. RMC maintains and develops

A tow goes through Louisville District’s McAlpine Locks and Dam 1,200-foot north chamber on the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky, Dec. 11, 2020.


The Navigation and Civil Works Decision Support Center (NDC), also in Alexandria, provides expertise in the management and availability of infrastructure use and performance information for USACE programs and projects across civil works business lines. The NDC directly supports the USACE navigation, hydropower, recreation, environmental compliance, water supply, regulatory, homeland security, emergency, and readiness functions. The NDC also provides integrated business information in support of USACE operational decision-making through management of Civil Works Business Intelligence (CWBI). This strategic initiative provides an integration for the management and tracking of infrastructure and USACE program execution through geospatially enabled data, coupled with decision support systems. This is an important tool in the development and defense of the USACE Civil Works program budget. The Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center (WCSC) in New Orleans, Louisiana, specializes in the collection and synthesis of U.S. inland, intercoastal, and port waterborne commerce data. Statistics developed from this data, including vessel movement, vessel characteristics, port facilities, dredging costs, and performance data and information on navigation locks, provides essential budget-development information and data for effective monitoring system and infrastructure performance. Also located in Alexandria, Virginia, the International Center for Integrated Water Resources Management (ICIWaRM) was established in collaboration with multiple U.S. agencies, academic institutions, and organizations sharing an interest in the advancement of the science and practice of integrated water resources management (IWRM). ICIWaRM was formalized as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Category 2 water center in 2009, the first such center in the United States. ICIWaRM serves as a nexus for technology transfer, integrating new ideas and advancing practical scientific and technological applications of IWRM, approaches developed both in the United States and by partner nations within UNESCO’s Division of Water Sciences. The center focuses on water security, adaptating to changing conditions, applying collaborative approaches, and promoting environmental sustainability, and provides visibility for USACE capabilities consistent with the “U.S. Government Global Water Strategy 2017.” ICIWaRM is also the technical secretariat for UNESCO’s Global Network on Water and Development Information for Arid Lands. n IWR Director Joe D. Manous Jr., P.E., Ph.D., D.WRE.


risk competencies and helps ensure consistency of risk assessment processes on appropriate application of risk criteria, all for the purpose of providing increased resiliency and more effective decision-making on dam and levee safety projects. The mission of the Conflict Resolution and Public Participation Center of Expertise (CPCX) in Alexandria, Virginia, is to help USACE field practitioners anticipate, prevent, and manage water conflicts, ensuring that the interest of the public is addressed in water resources decision-making. The CPCX provides technical assistance and training to USACE division and district offices and stakeholders on collaborative processes, facilitation, public involvement, risk communication, and collaborative modeling (Shared Vision Planning). CPCX also supports USACE Headquarters on national initiatives and policy development and coordinates USACE’s cross-cutting Collaboration and Public Participation Community of Practice. The Hydrologic Engineering Center (HEC) in Davis, California, is world renowned for its applied software model development, training, and consulting in hydrologic and hydraulic engineering, water resources planning, and water systems management. The mission of HEC is to support the nation in water resources management by enhancing USACE technical capacity in applied hydraulic and hydrologic engineering. Additional mission goals include providing technical leadership in improving the analytical methods for the hydrologic aspects of water resources planning and the delivery of the integrated suite of models serving as the Corps Water Management System (CWMS), which is used by divisions and districts in the real-time operation of reservoirs throughout the country. HEC models represent state-of-the-art tools that are widely used throughout the world.

Institute for Water Resources 7701 Telegraph Rd., Casey Bldg. Alexandria, VA 22315-3868 (703) 428-9090 www.iwr.usace.army.mil 145




he U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Aviation Program provides the critical capability of utilizing aircraft (manned and unmanned) as part of the Directorate of Logistics (DOL) to enhance USACE’s mission support. Whether it involves passengers, cargo, or performing USACE missions by use of unmanned aircraft, aviation quickly and reliably moves valuable resources and improves mission quality and safety. The USACE Aviation and Remote Systems Program, part of Headquarters’ DOL, is rapidly advancing the adoption of small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS) across the enterprise. Aviation is traditionally a transportation function, which ties directly with logistics. SUAS use adds value to scientific and engineering disciplines where there was previously no aviation expertise. Aviation operations are complex, requiring specialized knowledge to ensure legal, safe, and effective use of the technology. As aviation operations expanded, the need for this expertise became paramount to USACE’s ability to leverage the technology. Revolution and innovation have been key buzzwords around USACE for the last several years. Everyone in USACE understands the goal of disrupting the old ways of doing things in favor of new efforts


that increase our efficiency, safety, and data accuracy. Solving the nation’s toughest engineering problems requires this type of thinking, and one technology that is emblematic of this concept of disruptive innovation is the SUAS, or drone. Today, USACE is executing missions quickly, legally, and safely across the country. Our UAS program has set a standard that is being adopted by organizations in the Army, federal government, and state agencies. This is the result of the USACE program’s focus on mission effectiveness while increasing safety and cybersecurity. USACE has expanded its use of unmanned systems for years throughout USACE districts and labs, executing surveying, inspection, and research projects. The creation of the USACE Aviation Program Management Office (APMO) in early 2018 supports these innovations by ensuring that USACE implements appropriate standards, training, and oversight of unmanned systems and monitors cybersecurity and other risks related to technology integration. Establishing the APMO signals a new beginning for continued growth of unmanned technology within USACE. The APMO directs standards, training, and oversight of all USACE aviation activities. By developing and implementing methodologies drawn from U.S. Army Aviation doctrine, policies, and procedures,

Opposite page: Shea Hammond (left) and Jenny Laird of the Engineer Research and Development Center’s Environmental Laboratory prepare the Multirotor G4 Skycrane UAS for field data-collection for the Harmful Algal Blooms project in Vicksburg, Mississippi, August 2017. Left: Jared Butler, alternate dive coordinator, Portland District, uses the senseFly albris drone to conduct an emergency response mission to evaluate Cougar Dam after a severe winter snowstorm, February 2019. Below left: Travis Barnett, Jacksonville District, conducts a test flight of the Microdrones MD4-1000 at Disposal Unit 2, Duval County, Florida, April 2020.



USACE engages in a full spectrum of activities using unmanned and remote systems. Some examples include unmanned surface vessels such as the Wave Adaptive Modular Vessel, the Multifunctional Assessment Reconnaissance Vessel, and the Mini Robotic Submersible Dredge. The Blue Roof Program deployed UAS technology in the Hurricane Michael response with promising results, leading to expanded UAS integration into other emergency support functions. USACE has made tremendous progress implementing operation-wide safety management systems. The use of drones and other remote systems in dangerous areas, rather than USACE employees or contractors, is one important example of this safety focus. And while safety is the primary benefit, remote systems deployment also provides higher fidelity and quality of collected data, including full-motion and high-definition video. When the use of SUAS or other remote systems is appropriate, the cost savings over traditional methods can be as high as 90% and up to an 85% time-savings for data collection. The increase to personnel safety is, of course, immeasurable. USACE Aviation is not just all about drones; USACE owns or manages more than a dozen manned aircraft that conduct a variety of data-collection missions globally. The day-to-day oversight of these systems involves a team of scientists, engineers, support contractors, and program managers who ensure legal, safe, and effective use of these high-value systems. APMO supports aircrew training, safe operations, fleet management, mission development, and compliance. The Aviation Policy Letter, APL 19-08, developed by APMO and implemented across USACE, enables safe, legal, and effective missions to be developed, approved, and coordinated with qualified crewmembers. The aviation program manager (APM) is the commanding general’s authorized representative with delegated authority for all aspects of USACE aviation operations including, but not limited to, mission approval, crewmember training and standards, accident investigations, waivers, fleet management, system and operational safety, and information security. The Aviation Program’s efforts have especially focused on cybersecurity. The APMO is located near Redstone Arsenal, capitalizing on its proximity to the Army aviation acquisition efforts there. USACE’s mission is to solve the nation’s toughest engineering problems. This requires maintaining technical relevance in many disciplines, and unmanned systems are a growing segment of the engineering ecosystem. Taking the lead in all areas of unmanned systems allows USACE to maintain its position as a world-class engineering organization, realize significant time and money savings, and increase personnel safety. Keeping SUAS flying through approved waivers and safe, legal, and effective operations enables an annual execution exceeding $150 million in innovations, projects, and research across USACE.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! USACE Aviation also assists in airlift support for more specialized missions that involve military air (MILAIR) transport. During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response, MILAIR support has been vital to USACE’s ability to help expand hospital capacities nationwide. Under the guidance of longtime USACE employee Ed Massimo, USACE’s coordination with the MILAIR transportation network made this possible. Due to construction at the training site, Massimo established an alternate classroom at the USACE Humphreys Engineer Center Support Activity facility to ensure USACE employees and other Army personnel were trained on schedule. This drive to accomplish the mission paid tremendous dividends a few months later when MILAIR became the lifeline for senior leaders to meet the urgent needs imposed by the pandemic. The USACE Aviation Program resides within the DOL due to the DOL’s longstanding oversight of aviation operations, its contributions to ongoing transportation efforts, and its function as an enterprise program integrated into all field operating activities. The DOL provided seamless support for and integration of the Aviation Program’s ongoing activities. USACE Aviation focuses on mission accomplishment. The goal is to ensure data-collection and air-movement needs are met efficiently. n 1 47





he U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Marine Design Center (MDC) is managing the procurement of a dredge for the nation of Azerbaijan, as part of a broader U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) border security program to enhance Azerbaijan’s maritime security. The dredge will enable the coast guard of the State Border Service to operate its fleet of vessels and maintain access to the harbor entrance and shipping channels of ports located in the Caspian Sea. MDC, based in Philadelphia, is USACE’s center of expertise for naval architecture and marine engineering. The center manages the design and construction of barges, workboats, floating cranes, dredges, and other vessels for USACE as well as for other federal agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA. Throughout its history, MDC has completed more than 2,500 projects, but managing the procurement of a vessel for a foreign country is a rare occurrence. “MDC was very happy to assist the Navy with this exciting project, as it drew upon our expertise with dredging equipment and floating plant procurement to meet the project’s tight schedule and unique in-country mission requirements,” said MDC Director Brian Murtaugh. When complete, the new cutter-suction dredge will be used to maintain the harbor entrance and shipping channels of State Border Service coast guard ports in the Caspian Sea. The 50-foot vessel will be designed to dredge to a maximum depth of 20 feet with a 42 horsepower cutterhead and pump the sediment through more than 3,500 feet of floating discharge pipe. The dredge will be equipped with two spuds, two swing winches, and two anchors to facilitate the positioning and dredging operations. All dredge functions will be powered by a single CAT C13, 440-horsepower-rated engine, with a hydraulic system filled with U.S. EPA environmentally acceptable fluids. In September 2019, MDC awarded a $1.2 million contract to DSC Dredge, a small business based in New Orleans to design and construct the cutter-suction dredge. The contract will be administered in three phases. The first phase is ongoing now and includes engineering and design. The second phase includes construction and testing at the manufacturer facility in New Orleans, and the third phase includes reassembly and testing in Azerbaijan. “There will be extensive coordination between MDC, the dredge manufacturer, U.S. Transportation Command, the U.S. Navy, and the Azerbaijani coast guard particularly for the delivery and testing

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Marine Design Center is managing the procurement of a dredge for the nation of Azerbaijan. The new cuttersuction dredge will be used to maintain the harbor entrance and shipping channels of State Border Service coast guard ports in the Caspian Sea.

phase,” said MDC Project Manager Brendan McNichol. MDC developed the specification on an expedited timeline based on U.S. Navy requirements. MDC team members worked on the technical aspects of the specification while staff from the USACE Philadelphia District supported resource management, contracting, and documentation aspects of the project. “We relied on support from a number of different offices and individuals within the USACE Philadelphia District, including Robert Hutcheon and Greg Keaton from Contracting, Office of Counsel, and the Resource Management Office. Everyone did their part, and this has been a textbook example of how we can deliver when needed,” McNichol said. Externally, MDC has coordinated with the Azerbaijan coast guard, U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command, U.S. Transportation Command, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, and the Department of State.

ABOUT THE DOD MARITIME BORDER SECURITY PROGRAM The DOD maritime border security program supports the national interests of the United States, Azerbaijan, and other partners in the region given the threats of terrorists, weapons of mass destruction, illicit narcotics, and other trafficking. This program also enhances Azerbaijan’s capabilities to counter threats to its critical energy infrastructure that provides important natural resources to Western markets. n




n 1996, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Finance Center (UFC) was officially established to reduce the cost and improve the overall quality of financial management for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Development and deployment of the Corps of Engineers Financial Management System (CEFMS) II along with operating finance and accounting functions was consolidated into one location at USACE Finance Center in Millington, Tennessee. UFC is primarily responsible for setting the strategic direction and providing operational finance and accounting functions by assisting USACE worldwide with day-to-day support. This support includes, but is not limited to, the full range of customer service, payments, disbursing, accounting, and financial reporting for civil works and military programs’ appropriated funds, and revolving and trust funds. In addition, UFC is responsible for performing research, analysis, development, installation, and systems maintenance for the CEFMS II. This mission is accomplished with a dedicated, professional staff of accountants, accounting technicians, information management personnel, and various other support personnel. Along with the desire to maintain a highly motivated staff, the Finance Center is always aware and concerned about the costs of operation. UFC proactively searches for ways to reduce costs by identifying and eliminating duplicative processes, taking advantage of leading technology, and encouraging e-commerce. The center strives to achieve the commander’s vision while continually improving business processes and financial systems. The Finance Center’s Vision Statement includes four major tenets: • The premier, world-class provider of finance and accounting services. • The trusted, innovative financial partner of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. • One organization, one identity. • The employer of choice, providing a progressive and professional work environment. First, UFC aims to be the premier, world-class provider of finance and accounting services. In efforts to remain competitive and a best value to customers, the UFC will endeavor to adjust its structure to meet the needs of USACE, the Army, and all valued customers to further enhance performance in finance and accounting and revolutionize effectiveness. Second, UFC aspires to fully satisfy customer requirements and aggressively resolve problems in order to deliver best value, quality services. These high-quality results are achieved by implementing performance metrics to drive best business practices. Since the mission encompasses the world and brings together many diverse program areas of USACE, the Finance Center partners with the

Kevin Heath, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) disbursing officer, provides assistance to employees at the USACE Finance Center.

districts, divisions, labs, and separate field operating activities to leverage the complex, fully integrated financial management system, CEFMS II, to provide world-class support and accomplish the mission. Today, UFC and all USACE activities can query financial data in real time through a web browser. This innovative capability is demonstrated by increased use of e-commerce and e-government technology providing a paperless, seamless environment, increasing accuracy and lowering costs for customers. As a result, the UFC is truly the financial partner at work. Next, the third tenet, the consolidation of the UFC, was necessary to allow USACE to improve its internal operations; standardize and integrate the financial operations, procedures, and systems; implement best business practices; and reduce cost to the customers. Under this principle, the UFC persists to improve corporate quality and value. Finally, the Finance Center supports continuous learning for the workforce to ensure critical, high-quality skill sets. One of the main goals is to be able to develop the next generation of leadership by investing in the employees. Receiving a “Best Place to Work” award, UFC communicates openly and honestly; treats everyone with fairness and respect; follows through on commitments; and demonstrates accountability and integrity as a team. n U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Finance Center 5722 Integrity Dr. Building 787 Millington, TN 38054-5005 (901) 873-9000 www.usace.army.mil/Finance-Center/




he 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power) is a multi-component unit and the only medium-voltage power and distribution unit in the U.S. Army. As such, it possesses a majority of the Army’s Prime Power production specialists (military occupational specialty [MOS] 12P) and the full complement of the U.S. Army Reserve Linemen (MOS 12Q). Due to its unique mission, the 249th consistently operates under challenging conditions that are unknown to other engineer units or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) districts. These challenges include


geographic dispersion among units in order to provide regional support, the lack of traditional tiered-higher headquarter support systems (brigade and division), and a multi-component composition (active and Reserve forces).

MISSION On order, deploy worldwide to provide prime electrical power and electrical systems expertise in support of military operations and the National Response Framework.

headquarters may conduct consolidated training events to test the unit’s scalability while also exercising crucial staff functions and mission command. Once validated to operate by the battalion, a prime power team can expect to deploy across the globe to provide world-class power and electrical expertise.

NATIONAL RESPONSE FRAMEWORK The 249th Engineer Battalion supports disaster response operations as a part of Emergency Support Function #3 (ESF #3). This mission includes performing electrical assessments of critical infrastructure and allows for the timely installation of power generation assets to preserve life and restore civil governance. To prepare for this task, the Black Lions conduct real-world training on nominated facilities that are part of a local government’s critical facility restoration plan. Prime power production specialists may provide actual assessments to local and state facilities, like in Virginia to enable the commonwealth’s readiness. Water treatment plants, freshwater pumps, and buildings designated for emergency operations and housing are among the facilities supported.



In response to Hurricane Barry, the 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power) received the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)directed mission assignment to conduct assessments of critical public facilities, July 15, 2019. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers received two mission assignments from FEMA – regional activation and temporary emergency power – as part of the larger local, state, and federal unified response effort.

U.S. ARMY CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS The 249th Engineer Battalion, known as the Black Lions, trains its personnel to fill the persistent and dynamic requirements of the Army for electrical power in locations across the globe. To ensure the team remains ready to deliver world-class support, prime power production specialists train on the employment of the Deployable Power Generation/Distribution System to provide medium-voltage production and distribution in even the most austere environments. Though platoon-sized elements at the company level typically execute these missions, battalion

In addition to supporting Army operations worldwide with power production, prime power production specialists train to deploy as electrical power subject-matter experts, aiding in planning, maintenance, assessment, and testing of electrical systems. In this capacity, Black Lions Soldiers conduct a wide range of tasks from health and welfare inspections of facilities and planning lifecycle power usage of camps and bases, to recommending courses of action for contracted power requirements. This year, the 249th Engineer Battalion has been a part of the District of Washington’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While supporting Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and the Military District of Wahington with logistics support (screening personnel and providing blankets, meals, and material requests of the quarantined), it has also adapted its own schedule and habit to fulfill its mission. This includes providing global support for the Department of Defense’s (DOD) fleet of MEP-810 power units, as well as training for and fulfilling the National Response Framework’s ESF #3 requirements.

DID YOU KNOW? Best Warrior Competition To ensure their technicians remain ready to support the full range of Army operations, the 249th Engineer Battalion places a similar focus on excelling at the tactical tasks expected of any Soldier. A team of Black Lions proved this by competing in the 2019 National Capitol Region Best Warrior Competition, an event pitting Soldiers against each other to test their mastery of warrior skills and level of physical fitness. During the competition, contestants performed written and physical assessments that evaluated their proficiency in common warrior tasks and battle drills. The expectation for Black Lions to perform as both subject-matter experts and U.S. Army Soldiers makes them a unique and crucial organization within USACE. n


412th THEATER ENGINEER COMMAND BY MAJ. AL AN MOSS, 412 th Theater Engineer Command





he 412th Theater Engineer Command (TEC), headquartered at the George A. Morris U.S. Army Reserve Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi, is one of only two units of its kind in the American military. During contingency operations, the 412th TEC provides command and control of theater-level engineer operations in support of unified land operations. During peacetime operations, the 412th TEC provides mission command of all Army Reserve engineer assets in 20 states, predominantly east of the Mississippi River to include two engineer brigades, a Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB) and a Regional Support Group (RSG), a Forward Engineer Support Team-Main (FEST-M), an Explosive Hazards Coordination Cell (EHCC), and two digital liaison detachments (DLDs), totaling nearly 12,000 Soldiers and 300 civilians. The brigades are the 206th RSG, headquartered in Springfield, Illinois; the 302nd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, headquartered in Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts; the 411th Engineer Brigade, headquartered in New Windsor, New York; and the 926th Engineer Brigade, headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama. The 206th DLD located at Fort Jackson, South Carolina; the 207th DLD located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; the 368th FEST-M located in Decatur, Georgia; and the 475th EHCC located in Vicksburg, Mississippi, are also direct-reporting units to the 412th. An engineer two-star general, Maj. Gen. Stephen Strand, commands the 412th TEC, focusing the proper emphasis on unit training/readiness during peacetime employment and the proper emphasis on the theater engineer mission required for emerging threats and possible peer and near-peer adversaries. The 412th TEC provides theater-wide engineer support as well as engineer support to forces deployed within a joint operations area, geospatial support, construction, real property maintenance activities, line of communications sustainment, engineer logistics management, base development, and theater infrastructure repair or development as required. It serves as the senior engineer headquarters for the theater Army, as well as all assigned or attached engineer brigades and other engineer units. When directed, it may also command engineers from other services and multinational forces and provide oversight of contracted construction engineers. The 412th TEC’s combat capabilities consist of mobility augmentation, route clearance, area clearance, and counter-mobility. Construction capabilities consist of vertical construction, horizontal construction, and technical engineer support. The 412th TEC can also deploy two early-entry deployable command posts (DCPs) with all of these capabilities. Additionally,

Top: Maj. Gen. Stephen Strand (right) passes the colors to Command Sgt. Maj. Benny Hubbard during a change-of-responsibility ceremony held at the Vicksburg National Military Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Jan. 12, 2020. Hubbard assumed the role of the 412th Theater Engineer Command’s senior enlisted adviser from Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Law. Above: The 680th Engineer Company fires an M58 mine-clearing line charge (MICLIC) during training with its active-duty engineer counterparts at Fort Irwin, California, Feb. 19, 2020.

the DCPs can expand and tailor their size to the operation as the mission requires. The 412th TEC currently supports U.S. Army Pacific, an operational-level Army force designated by the Secretary of the Army (SA) as the Army Service Component Command (ASCC) of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. The 412th TEC also supports U.S. Southern Command and U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Army South, and U.S. Army North with technical engineer capability to open and set theaters of operations.

By the Numbers • Provides command and control of theater-level engineer operations levels above brigade in support of unified land operations. • Mission command and oversees all Army Reserve engineer assets, predominantly east of the Mississippi River. • Commands three brigades, a regional support group, and four smaller direct reporting units, totaling nearly 12,000 Soldiers and 300 civilians. • Combat capabilities consist of mobility augmentation, clearance companies, sapper companies, and multi-role bridge companies. The construction capabilities are vertical, horizontal, and engineer support. • In October 2017, the 412th TEC became regionally aligned with U.S. Southern Command and the U.S. Northern Command (U.S. Army South and U.S. Army North, respectively). • Performs key roles in large-scale training exercises, contingency planning, and in-theater security cooperation plan engagements. PEACETIME EMPLOYMENT • Executes mission command of all Army Reserve engineer units predominantly east of the Mississippi, ensuring trained and ready forces available to U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) and U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC). • Supports and participates in FORSCOM/USARC training exercises in the continental United States (CONUS) and combatant command/ Army service component command (COCOM/ASCC) exercises and training opportunities outside the continental United States (OCONUS) to maintain unit readiness. • Maintains communications with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the ASCCs to ensure continuous support focused on the long-term goals of both organizations in their areas of responsibility (AORs). • Maintains communications/ties with sister service engineer organizations, in order to enhance joint readiness and interoperability. WARTIME EMPLOYMENT • Manages and executes the ASCC’s maneuver support mission at theater level. The TEC is modular and scalable, enhancing its versatility. It deploys in part, combination, or in its entirety. The 412th TEC can also deploy two early-entry deployable command posts (DCPs) with all of these capabilities. Additionally, the DCP can expand and tailor its size to the operation as the mission requires. • Executes mission command for all Army theater engineer assets in the ASCC AOR and is expandable enough to manage the joint, allied/ coalition engineer effort, as well as many contracted construction operations. • Supports engineer operational-level planning, coordination, and technical services supporting the ASCC, geographic combatant command, or joint task force (JTF). • Participates in joint civil engineering support planning (CESP) in support of the ASCC/COCOM. • Provides command and control of theater-level engineer operations levels above brigade in support of unified land operations. • Provides trained and ready forces in support of global operations utilizing the Army Sustainment Readiness Model; and provides policies, guidance, resourcing, and administrative support as an operational command over assigned Army Reserve units. • Provides command and control of assigned or attached engineer brigades, groups, and other engineer units engaged in general, geospatial, and combat engineering missions for an ASCC or JTF. • Provides engineer support to joint exercises, humanitarian civil assistance, exercise-related construction, installation-related construction, and theater security cooperation plans and partnership for peace missions. • Operates as the senior engineer headquarters to command, plan, and control engineer assets within the theater of operations. The TEC supports an ASCC or JTF in theater. • Develops and validates plans, procedures, and programs for theater-level engineer mission command and support to the ASCCs. • Communicates to the ASCCs the capabilities of the theater engineer commands and opportunities where the TEC can support those commands.

In addition to providing wartime support as the ASCC, the 412th TEC performs key roles in large-scale training exercises, in contingency planning, and other theater security cooperation plan engagements within these same areas of operations. During 2020, the command enabled Soldiers from more than 100 subordinate units to participate in numerous major events, exercises, and operations across the continental United States and around the world. As part of the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 368th FEST-M mobilized to support the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers setting up alternate care facilities (ACFs). Technical experts from these

teams traveled to sites in Chinle, Arizona; Shiprock, New Mexico; Phoenix, Arizona; and Memphis, Tennessee. They performed site assessments, aided in construction management and quality assurance tasks, and provided technical engineering support to help repurpose existing buildings into ACFs, where patients could be seen and treated by physicians. 412th Theater Engineer Command 1265 Porters Chapel Rd. Vicksburg, MS 39180 (601) 631-6103 153


416th THEATER ENGINEER COMMAND Answering the call to serve during COVID-19 pandemic

Lt. Col. Edwin Sherman, with the Contingency Response Unit, provides operational support to the USACE Fusion Cell. As a staff augmentee, he is one of several staff members to coordinate and track all actions dealing with the alternate care facilities and assessments across the nine USACE divisions.

BY MAJ. KHOR AN LEE, 416th Theater Engineer Command


oldiers of the 416th Theater Engineer Command (TEC) answered a nationwide call to serve during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. With time being an important factor, these service members took part in a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) critical response effort to build stronger medical infrastructure across America. In March, as COVID-19 continued to spread across the states and national and local governments began to implement mitigation plans to reduce the outbreak, USACE sent up the request. They reached out to Army Reserve liaisons for additional staff support and 29 Soldiers from the 416th TEC mobilized across seven USACE districts. USACE’s response plan went into effect to assess and construct alternate care facilities (ACFs), which are facilities temporarily converted for health care use during a public emergency to reduce the burden on hospitals and established medical facilities. USACE and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services compiled the materials to support states


and municipalities in creating ACF sites to support their medical requirements during the pandemic. In Washington, D.C., at USACE Headquarters, members of the TEC’s Contingency Response Unit (CRU) mobilized with a mission to provide rapid, scalable, and expeditionary response. They augmented the USACE Operations Center (UOC). Capt. David Rey supported operations by providing daily briefs to the chief of engineers. The UOC monitored the national response and received updates from each of the divisions, which centered around the construction of the ACFs and deployed personnel. “Additionally, we track, on an individual level, all of USACE’s COVID infected or suspected infected,” said Rey. “The Corps of Engineers was ahead of the interagency and federal government response in being prepared with a plan in the event they were called forward to assist. I got a call on a Thursday, and the very next day I was in the office. About a week later, we started implementing this alternate care facility plan. I think because of our scope of work, our capability, and ability to respond to national disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires,


Above: Capt. David Rey, with the Contingency Response Unit, provides operational support to the USACE Operations Center (UOC). As a staff augmentee, he is one of several staff members to provide daily briefs to the chief of engineers on national response efforts. The 24-hour UOC monitors and receives updates from USACE division-level emergency operations centers on the construction and assessment of alternate care facilities (ACFs), and tracks each division’s deployed personnel. Left: Lt. Col. Robert Mikyska, with the 647th Regional Support Group, activates in support of Chicago District’s construction of an ACF at the Wisconsin State Fair Park and Exposition Center in West Allis, Wisconsin. He was responsible for quality assurance and quality control of the project construction design.

we expected engineer capabilities [were] needed and [we] were prepared to do so,” said Rey. At Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Lt. Col. Edwin Sherman with the CRU and Maj. William A. Yount with USACE Reserve Affairs aligned to serve USACE’s ACF Fusion Cell. The team coordinates and tracks all actions dealing with the ACFs and assessments across the nine USACE divisions. “[The] Corps of Engineers came up with this new modular design to convert arenas, hospitals, and dormitories into ACFs. They got a bunch of projects throughout the states to basically try to get them in place before the bloom of the virus,” said Sherman. The Fusion Cell reports construction and coordinates site assessment at each division and reports to the chief of engineers and commanding general of USACE. “What this allows the chief to do is, instead of reaching down to division commanders, he can go to us and roll up the data of anything dealing with ACF and site assessment,” said Yount. Coordination with the divisions allowed the cell to be the nexus of information within the headquarters and across the USACE enterprise. The team’s updates were rolled into data for public dissemination and to allow the chief of engineers to inform the national media of the 32 ACFs in construction. In the Chicago District, engineers and contractors worked rapidly to rehabilitate what was formerly Westlake Hospital into an ACF that could hold a total of 430 beds in less than three weeks. Sgt. Maj. John Nelson with the 416th TEC arrived April 6, 2020, to assist USACE and was tasked to provide quality assurance and quality control of contracted work covering a wide range of construction

disciplines, including mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. He also assisted with the management to the repairs and upgrades of the heating, cooling, and building automation systems. “My experience working in the same role for USACE in Afghanistan was helpful, because I was familiar with the systems and procedures USACE uses to manage construction,” said Nelson, an engineer from the 416th’s General Engineering Operations Cell. Eighty-eight miles north of Westlake hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lt. Col. Robert Mikyska, with the 647th Regional Support Group, activated in support of ACF construction at the Wisconsin State Fair Park and Exposition Center. “We had a few calls a day to make sure everything was on track. I went to Milwaukee for the kickoff and then went through the whole process,” said Mikyska. “We built a fully functioning hospital, with hardline oxygen, hard-stand showers, latrines, and patient areas, which are basically cubicles, in nine days.” The ACF was designed with 500 beds: 250 beds with hardline oxygen and another 250 with bottle oxygen. Although proud to be involved in a historical moment, Soldiers were constantly reminded of the stark reality and dangers brought on by the viral enemy. “It’s very sobering too, because as you are excited about everything going on and see the collaborative effort, it’s hard to be around there, as you know potentially there are people that will come in there that will not make it out,” said Mikyska. The 416th TEC is postured to support both domestic events and combat operations by providing theater-level engineer assets from across its 26-state footprint, with Soldiers ready when the nation calls to quickly mobilize and deploy. n 155

Articles from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Building Strong, Serving the Nation and the Armed Forces, 2020-2021