An amended Change of Command ceremony that both reflects the significance of change but yields to the reality of the theater focus and priorities, was held at the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Afghanistan District Headquarters, Bagram Airfield July 15, 2019 as the mantle of command transitioned to Col. Chris Becking from Col. Jason E. Kelly.
In his opening remarks, Becking said you all have achieved some amazing outcomes for the U. S. and the coalition, delivering an over $1 billion program against some incredible challenges.
“I am super excited about our mission here.’ With what we are doing as a District, you all are making a difference for Afghanistan’s future,” he said. “Decades from now, when Afghanistan is relatively stable, when children can do homework at night, when hospital ventilators can run reliably, you and I will have the satisfaction of looking back upon our work here in Afghanistan and be clear that we directly contributed to these efforts.”
He pointed out that he is deeply humbled and excited to join this District.
“First, you all volunteered to be here.’ That may seem fairly obvious to you, but I guarantee there are many Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, and Marines here who did not volunteer—many of those were told about another deployment and not given an option.
“But that isn’t the case with most of you here in the District.’ Not only did you choose to join the civil service—even though you might be making more in private industry, but you also volunteered to come to Afghanistan. Whatever your reasons, I appreciate that you volunteered to be here and that makes my job all that more special.”
Col. Becking comes to the Afghanistan District from the 555th Engineer Brigade, the Triple Nickel, America’s I Corps, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He previously served with the U. S. Army Colonel’s Management Office, Arlington, VA, and as Executive Officer to the Commanding General, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC.
He is not a stranger to USACE having served as the 57th Commander of the Philadelphia District, Philadelphia, PA.
Col. Becking received his commission from the University of Michigan as an engineer officer in April 1995, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, and a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Auburn University. He is a registered professional engineer in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is a registered PRINCE2 Practitioner.
He is a highly decorated Army officer with military awards including a Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and many more.
Col. Jason E. Kelly, who served as the Transatlantic Afghanistan District commander since June 2018, will transition to the Pentagon where he will be the Director for the Office of the Chief of Engineers (OCE).
“As family members pass the stove, each is expected to put something in the pot, adding flavor and substance to improve the stew and feed the family.’ I’ve tried to find ways for everyone to add to the pot that feeds the Afghanistan District, Kelly said. “As you reflect on my service here, I hope you’ll find that my contribution added to the pot.”
The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers’ presence in Afghanistan began in October 1960 when the Afghanistan area office was established to promote economic development. Most notably USACE built the modern 300-mile Kabul-to-Kandahar highway, completing the project in March 1968.
As the construction/contracting agent, building capacity within the population of Afghanistan in order to shape the future of Afghanistan, the district, with its dedicated team of deployed volunteers and military members oversees a workload of 84 projects totaling more than $1.02B. What the USACE Afghanistan District delivers, remains steady with focus on priority efforts with our partners USFOR-A and CSTC-A.