By Maj. Gen. Peter N. Fuller
U.S. Army Deputy Commander for Programs NATO Training Mission
Afghanistan Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan
In this post, I’d like to highlight the efforts of my Combined Joint Engineering directorate (CJ ENG), but first, it is worth noting that there are other engineering offices here in Afghanistan. ISAF Joint Command, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and the NTM-A Deputy Commander for Regional Support all have engineering support. CJ ENG however, differentiates itself by supporting the ANSF with a long term focus. The CJ ENG office consists of:
- Program managers responsible for the planning and constructing permanent bases across all of Afghanistan for the Afghan National Police, Afghan National Army, and Afghan Air Force.
- Individuals managing the National Operations and Maintenance Contract, responsible for maintaining the ANSF infrastructure that is built and in use.
- Skilled Infrastructure Training and Advisory Group teams working with and training the ANA and ANP facility engineers responsible for maintaining their own facilities and infrastructure.
- Ministerial development experts working with Afghan leaders and engineers in order to professionalize their engineering community to ensure better management and accountability of projects.
- Individuals skilled at integration, thus ensuring the complex operation of building many different types of infrastructure across Afghanistan is coordinated and synchronized.
One of CJ ENG’s big efforts over the past year has been creating a set of “austere facility construction standards” for facilities in Afghanistan. It is what I refer to as the “Afghan right” standard, focusing on local materials and equipment, architecture that Afghans can construct with local equipment and infrastructure that is more easily maintained. The simplicity involved means that training engineers, construction crews and facility maintenance workers take less time, speeding up the transition process. As an added bonus, a lot of these standards are less expensive to build, operate and maintain in the long run.
We are making great progress but there are still issues that crop up that must be resolved. Local commanders are accustomed to having complete control over their facilities, and they are still acclimating to the higher headquarters oversight. One commander, acting in the interests of security, banned all foreign workers from his base, not realizing that it was causing major setbacks to one of his construction projects because the concrete subcontractor had many foreign contractors working on the project.
Because a resolution to the situation could not be found locally, CJ ENG’s ministerial development team brought the issue through the chief of operations for the ANA, who reviewed the situation and existing laws and policies and then issued guidance to all his commanders. As ANSF internal communication improves, we are seeing more and more situations where the Afghan leadership is learning about and resolving issues without coalition involvement.
As a short closing note and a photo, I’m happy to share one of our most recently completed projects, the Border Police Company HQ in Shepula. This is one of the many Police compounds we are constructing around the country, building an organic network of professionals to protect the populace, enforce the rule of law, and ensure security in the region.
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