Kelly assumes command of USACE Afghanistan District

Col. Mark C. Quander, commander, USACE Transatlantic Division, charges Col. Jason E. Kelly with command of the Afghanistan Engineer District in a ceremony on Bagram Airfield June 28.

Col. Mark C. Quander, commander, USACE Transatlantic Division, charges Col. Jason E. Kelly with command of the Afghanistan Engineer District in a ceremony on Bagram Airfield June 28.

From left, Maj. Gen. Michael C. Wehr, USACE Deputy Commanding General; Col. Kimberly M. Colloton, outgoing Afghanistan District commander; Col. Mark C. Quander, Transatlantic Division commander; and Col. Jason E. Kelly, incoming Afghanistan District commander. These USACE leaders participate in a change of command ceremony for the Afghanistan District June 28.

From left, Maj. Gen. Michael C. Wehr, USACE Deputy Commanding General; Col. Kimberly M. Colloton, outgoing Afghanistan District commander; Col. Mark C. Quander, Transatlantic Division commander; and Col. Jason E. Kelly, incoming Afghanistan District commander. These USACE leaders participate in a change of command ceremony for the Afghanistan District June 28.

Col. Jason E. Kelly assumed command of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Afghanistan Engineer District from Col. Kimberly M. Colloton in late June.

In a traditional Army ceremony, Sgt. Maj. Jorge A. Rivera, Afghanistan District, was the bearer of the colors, the commander’s symbol of authority. He passed the colors to Colloton for the last time, and she relinquished her responsibilities and authority to the next higher chain of command, Transatlantic Division Commander Col. Mark C. Quander. Quander then passed the colors to Kelly, charging him with the mantle of leadership for the District. Maj. Gen. Michael C. Wehr, USACE Deputy Commanding General, was the presiding officer.

Wehr acknowledged the thousands of USACE teammates, past and present, who volunteered to serve in Afghanistan. He also acknowledged Colloton and Kelly for their integrity and technical competence in meeting the “nation’s toughest challenges” in an expeditionary environment.

The Afghanistan District supports Operations Resolute Support and Freedom’s Sentinel by accomplishing construction for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, for the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan supporting the Afghan National Defense Security Forces; and for both the Departments of Defense and State to complete projects authorized under the Afghan Infrastructure Fund program.

The work includes projects for Afghan Air Force modernization, Afghan Special Security Forces, the National Army and Police, the Women’s Participation Program, and the Northern Electrical Power System and the Southern Electrical Power System.

Since 2002 in Afghanistan, USACE has delivered military construction, public infrastructure, Afghan National Security Forces construction, and operations and maintenance services to train Afghans to operate and maintain facilities constructed on their behalf.

Importantly, the District’s projects build skilled human capital by using predominantly Afghan-owned companies in the construction programs and by having Afghan quality assurance staff assist in construction oversight.

In her remarks, Colloton, who has commanded the District since August 2017, expressed her appreciation to those attending the ceremony and especially to her District team.

“One of the unique challenges of this USACE organization is that most everyone is a volunteer, every single person is on a different rotation cycle, and everyone is borrowed from somewhere else,” she said. “The key to our collective success was to ensure that this group of borrowed talent worked together as a high functioning team, and as new team members showed up, we could lose no time. We had to get them on-boarded fast and rowing in the right direction.

“I charge the Afghanistan District to stay on course, keep rowing and finish strong – to continue to deliver on our commitments…for the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, NATO, and the United States. The rewards will be satisfying, visible and enduring,” she said.

Kelly, who most recently commanded the USACE Norfolk District, said that he is honored to command the Afghanistan District. He also expressed his gratitude to Colloton for her sage counsel during the transition of command.

“Command at any level is a privilege and a labor of love,” Kelly said. “Those who are commanded have their lives placed uniquely in the care of the commanding officer. They have a right to expect that their leader will be held to exacting standards of professionalism and personal accountability. This is especially true in a combat environment. It’s a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. I’m excited about what we’re going to do together.”

Before this assignment, Kelly command the USACE Norfolk District from July 2015 through June 2018. He has held leadership positions from platoon to brigade, with duty in Asia, the Middle East, and the United States.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division serves as USACE’s tip of the spear in one of the most dynamic construction environments in the world, STRENGTHENING PARTNERSHIPS, BUILDING CAPACITY, and ENHANCING SECURITY for our nation, allies, and partners. 

We deliver agile, responsive, and innovative, design, construction, engineering and contingency solutions in support of U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command and other global partners to advance national security interests.

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