Shield 5 Program Critical to Enhancing U.S Foreign Policy, Qatari National Security
When a team from the Transatlantic Middle East District (TAM) was recognized as the “USACE Project Delivery Team (PDT) of the Year for Merit” in 2018, the award was based on the complex design and acquisition work involved in an approximately $1 billion project. And when you win an award for a project before the first bit of dirt has touched a shovel, the bar is set high.
The project, known comprehensively as Shield 5, is one of the largest and most complex ever undertaken by the district in its almost 70-year history in the Middle East and covers the construction of several missile defense sites along with numerous support facilities spread across a wide geographic area.
The Shield 5 Program, part of the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, is massive: Build more than 252 buildings and other structures, including military system structures, administrative buildings, barracks, officers’ clubs, fire stations, dining facilities, operations and communication buildings, storage and testing buildings, and almost 50 substations in support of the Qatari Emiri Air Defense Forces (QEADF).
“One of the most challenging aspects of this project is that these sites were completely undeveloped,” said Brad Carter, the program manager forward at the Qatar Project Management Office since the contracts were awarded. “Our district is used to building large-scale projects, but it’s usually on sites where there’s already support infrastructure in place, such as a military base. The Shield 5 sites were literally desert before we started, so in addition to developing the project sites themselves, we are working very closely with the nation of Qatar to ensure infrastructure such as power and other utilities are in place.”
An average of $982,000 worth of construction has been placed daily for the past 18 months, including the construction of a 394-foot-tall communication tower and a 150,600-squarefoot, three-story QEADF headquarters building complete with 500-plus-seat training auditorium, and three architectural roof domes based upon Islamic architecture that took two tower cranes to construct.
At times, the construction sites had up to 10,000 workers on any given day, and due to the heat, double-team shifts have been constant in order to avoid the heat of the day. All of this effort has been accomplished while maintaining a stellar safety record. The program has accumulated more than 25,500,000 man-hours of labor since November 2017 with only one reportable accident.
“This construction program is the largest FMS military construction case of its kind in Qatar and is a flagship program of how the United States and Qatar are working very close together to achieve common goals,” Carter said. “Qatar is currently under construction as a country, with an estimated $200 billion of ongoing construction in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar.”
The Shield 5 Program is just one example of how the Middle East District’s work with FMS construction projects is critical to enhancing foreign policy and national security, and improving the security of Qatar – an important U.S. ally in the Arabian Gulf. When completed and made operational, the Patriot air defense missile systems to be located at these sites will continue to improve Qatar and U.S relations, strengthen the Qatar homeland defense, enhance deterrence of regional threats in the Middle East, and enhance Qatar’s interoperability with the United States and its allies.
“I am so proud of the teams in Qatar and in Winchester, Virginia, who have been involved in making this program successful,” Carter said. “For more than four years, the team has maintained a daily focus on what our critical goals and commitments are to the QEADF.”