Seven members of the Mosul Dam Task Force (MDTF) in Northern Iraq received Army Commendation Medals for their work providing engineering excellence to the Government of Iraq’s Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) and the during a ceremony that took place June 14, 2019, at the Mosul Dam Project site in Iraq.
Receiving awards for outstanding service to the MDTF by supporting the Government of Iraq, the U.S. State Department, and the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve were:
- SFC Amit Ranadey, who served in multiple roles on the MDTF. In addition to managing Task Force supply and logistics, Ranadey was instrumental in the Project’s Integration program training MoWR personnel in up-to-date processes and technology related to warehouse management and supply accountability. His dedicated efforts led to the successful completion of the Transatlantic Division's top priority: The safe and successful demobilization of the Mosul Dam Task Force from the Mosul Dam. His efforts turning over more than $10 million worth of equipment to the MoWR, coordinating movement of MDTF equipment in theatre, standing up the Erbil Project Closeout Office, and training and validating the MoWR warehouse operations were all essential to the successful completion of the project closeout and demobilization missions. His efforts will enable the long-term stability of Mosul Dam for years to come.
- Capt. Sean Crain, who authoring more than 20 project reports in order to keep various high level stakeholders including the GoI and the US Embassy informed. Sean stepped in and handled compiling and editing of monthly project reports for the last four months of the project. He took charge of the housing complex for the purpose of planning, organizing, and overseeing its turnover from Trevi to the MoWR at the project end; his effectiveness led to smooth timely completion.
- Maj. Pedro Martinez, who served as the Executive Officer, Operations Officer, and Project Closeout Office officer in charge. Martinez and his staff monitored 24/7 operations in a dynamic security environment and he personally contributed to the security of the task force by coordinating with each of the five different Security Forces units providing security at Mosul Dam. His input and communication skills were critical during an especially turbulent time of transition involving two Italian Army battalions and three separate U.S. units. His consistent presence and communication helped ensure seamless security on the ground and his leadership enabled the MDTF to remain focused on the technical challenges of the dam without fear for their personal safety.
- Capt. William Mengon, who was assigned to coach, teach, assess, and advise the MoWR warehouse operations in order to prepare them for success prior to the contractor's departure in July 2019. He took great care to understand their current system, their immediate and long-term needs, and consequently was able to provide practical helpful advice. He played a vital role in planning, inventorying, and transferring the entire warehouse to the MoWR ahead of schedule. Mengon did many things to improve the quality of life for all 70 members of the task force. He efficiently ordered, received, organized and distributed Class I items, he improved mail service and organization, managed lodging for the team in a transparent, fair, and efficient manner, and organized morale-building events for the team.
- Capt. Michael Reilly, who served as a project engineer for the $357K Adit Joint Repair Project inside the dam’s grouting gallery and saw it through from beginning to successful completion. His timely responses to submittals, and steady presence and guidance helped keep positive momentum through several challenges and questions. The project stayed on or ahead of schedule and had zero safety incidents ensuring delivery for the MoWR and the structural integrity of the dam grouting gallery well beyond MDTF’s presence on site. He also took over the task force’s second main effort for one month during the absence of the Integration Lead, where he led three key weekly meetings and was able to focus senior leaders from three organizations on the most important aspects of the program to best prepare the MoWR for independent operations. Under his watch, all 13 critical organizations or functions (more than 240 employees) progressed in their respective areas.
- 1st Lt. Brian Warren, who volunteered for a 400-day deployment to support the MDTF. He served as both the Force Protection Officer (FPO) and the primary Battle Captain where he controlled all movement of Task Force personnel to and from the work site, to and from Kuwait, and via tactical air movement to and from Erbil. He reacted to emergency notifications with international partners and remained prepared in the event any emergency actions were required. He personally managed and tracked all personnel moving from Erbil to Mosul Dam and minimized transit time, ensuring safety for all involved. He also worked directly with the Italian Army, U.S. Army, and Combined Joint Flight Operations to find the most effective transportation solutions. His persistence, hard work, and troubleshooting measures ensured approximately 50 personnel and 1,500 pound of equipment safely moved to and from Mosul Dam each month.
- Capt. Laura Winn, who immediately served as a battle captain, requesting and monitoring air movements for the entire task force, maintaining accountability and force-protection procedures. She played an integral role in ensuring the Tactical Operations Center provided 24/7 support to the task force and adjusted and improved several procedures in the process. Winn also was critical in verifying procurement and delivery of contracted supplies and parts. She physically counted items received and tracked what was due in. She furthered her study of languages and the cultures of other members of the multi-national MDTF team in order to improve her ability to understand their perspective and act as mediator between elements when misunderstanding arose.
According to Mosul Dam Task Force Commander Col. Philip Secrist, “the initiative, competence, and technical skills” of each of the awardees “allowed the task force to excel in this complex, inter-agency, and multi-national environment.”
Army Civilian Juan Vargas was also recognized at the ceremony for his dedication and hard work supporting the MDTF. As the senior technical lead on the Mosul Dam project, Secrist said Vargas was “the belts and suspenders” for the entire team.
“Juan’s ability to handle tough technical issues in an uncertain environment was invaluable in the success of the project. As the team member with the longest tenure on the job, he has become the institutional memory of the project and his contributions were highly valued by USACE and by MoWR.”
The Mosul Dam Task Force will be leaving Iraq in a matter of weeks, following a successful two year-mission providing Engineering Expertise to the project and the people of Iraq.