The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division’s Expeditionary District commander, Col. Kenneth N. Reed, transferred command to Lt. Col Peter M. Ammerman at a relinquishment of command ceremony, April 25, 2022, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
Maj. Gen. Kimberly Colloton, commanding general of Transatlantic Division, officiated the ceremony, passing the unit colors to Ammerman, until Reed’s replacement, Lt. Col. Richard Childers, arrives on July 16.
In his exit remarks before more than 100 guests, and a virtual audience, Reed focused his speech on the successes of the Expeditionary District team, which he called the TAE family.
“Almost a year ago, I assumed command of an organization that was just a little over 30 days old,” Reed said. “We were doing all the things that new organizations do - we were trying to find our way, we were establishing systems, processes, while trying to establish our identity. I knew that the future was uncertain, but I also knew that the future could be bright if we could develop a culture that believed in getting better every day.”
Within a month the newly formed district - which had been managing hundreds of construction contracts in Afghanistan - would be tested by the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
“Our first big test was when Afghanistan fell, and we never missed a beat,” Reed said. “The TAE family rallied and took care of its people while continuing to deliver construction projects for our partners. As we transitioned into being the “One Door to the Corps” for our stakeholders here in the Middle East, the TAE family strengthen the foundation yet again by delivering at the “speed of relevance” for our mission partners.”
The speed of relevance that Reed talks about refers to delivering the project to the customer as promised or earlier, that the project is on budget, and it’s designed and built to function as the customer intended to provide the desired capability to the warfighter or customer.
Reed went on to thank his battle buddy, Sgt. Maj. Jun Tomagan, who had also assumed responsibilities as the district’s senior enlisted advisor on the same day Reed took command.
“We started this journey together with a vision of just taking care of folks while delivering on an oath “to support and defend the constitution of the United States,” Reed said. “I could not have asked for a better battle buddy to have by my side on this journey.”
With the mission changing in Iraq, and the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan, Colloton – who had deployed to Afghanistan in 2017 as the Transatlantic Afghanistan District commander - knew a transformation was the best way forward.
“A little over a year and a half ago we did some risk informed analysis resulting in a decision to consolidate two of our forward-deployed Army Corps of Engineers districts – the Transatlantic Afghanistan District, and the Iraq-focused Task Force Essayons – into one,” Colloton said.
The result of the merger was the newly formed Expeditionary District, headquartered in Kuwait, and tasked with optimizing engineering efforts that would support military stakeholders in the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility.
Equally important was to close out the hundreds of construction contracts in Afghanistan, the result of the quick withdrawal of forces.
In her remarks Colloton praised Reed’s leadership during that challenging transition.
“When Col. Reed came forward and took command of the Transatlantic Expeditionary District last June, he took on the challenges I laid out and successfully executed a transitioning mission – in a very unpredictable region.” Colloton said. “He did not veer away from challenges, but took them head on, with confidence and focus. I knew he was the right person, in the right place and at the right time. As I reflect back on this past year, Ken has proven that to be wholly true.”
As in any successful district, it’s not only about the leadership at the top, but equally important is the years of experience and solid foundation built and formed by highly experienced project managers, engineers, quality control, contracting and staff personnel.
“The accomplishments over the past year are a testament to that legacy,” Colloton said to the audience. “It’s their efforts and dedication that have brought success in one of the most complex engineering and construction environments on Earth.”
For Ammerman, a military engineer deployed from the 176th Engineer Brigade, Texas Army National Guard, and now the interim commander, it was important to reassure the military stakeholders that the Expeditionary District was here to support their mission needs and would continue with their exceptional relationships.
In his closing remarks Ammerman also thanked the Expeditionary District workforce for their dedication to the district mission, and to Reed for the opportunity to lead the district.
“Col. Reed, thank you for your leadership, mentorship, and friendship,” Ammerman said. “I’ve really enjoyed being your deputy, and I will carry on your forward-thinking. Together, the TAE family and I will continue to seek improvements in our processes and programs, a testament to your legacy.”
Editor’s Note: Col. Kenneth Reed’s next assignment will be as the division commander of the Southwestern Division, in Dallas, Texas. His change of command, hosted by Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commanding general, will be on May 5, 2022.