The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ newest district, the Transatlantic Division’s Expeditionary District, held its one-year anniversary at a celebratory event on Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, May 15, 2022.
The Expeditionary District was formed in May 2021, from the merger of two wartime-focused and battle-tested Army Corps of Engineers organizations: the Afghanistan District, which was focused on Afghanistan construction projects, and Task Force Essayons, which managed Iraq construction projects.
During the May 2021 closure ceremony for these two units, represented by the traditional act of casing their flags, or colors, Col. Mark Geraldi, the last Afghanistan District commander, told the audience, “The two casings we conducted today do not represent the end of each unit’s respective story, rather they signify the beginning of a new chapter in the tremendous history of both organizations.”
Within minutes of that statement the colors of the Army Corps of Engineers’ fledgling district, the Transatlantic Division’s Expeditionary District, were unveiled to represent the merger of the two workforces and organizational transformation, with Geraldi as the first Expeditionary District commander.
As is often said about a military career, change seems to be the only constant, and assignments can be short-lived based on the needs of the Army. Soon after taking command, Geraldi was selected to lead a directorate at Army Forces Command, and on June 28, he transfer command to Col. Kenneth N. Reed, the second commander in Expeditionary District’s short history.
Within a month the newly formed district - which had been managing hundreds of construction contracts in Afghanistan - would be tested by the planned withdrawal of U.S. forces.
“Our first big test was when Afghanistan fell, and we never missed a beat,” Reed said during his own relinquishment of command on April 25, 2022. “The TAE family rallied and took care of its people while continuing to deliver construction projects for our partners.”
The comprehensive list of projects that the Expeditionary District manages every day include quality of life improvements like bike paths, barracks for deployed troops, dining facilities for Army and Air Force personnel, solar power integration, wastewater treatment plants and electrical grid improvements.
The Expeditionary District workforce also has a significant role in theater engineering and construction projects and environmental programs that enhance U.S. and coalition mission capabilities to include the resurfacing of runways and taxiways, building industrial-sized sunshades for high-value simulators, building warehouses for Army Materiel Command’s pre-positioned stocks, and hundreds of other military and host nation construction projects.
Since its birth, the ‘Always Forward' district has continued to undergo significant growth and transformation while managing over 300 military and host nation construction projects in four countries.
On April 1, 2022, the Expeditionary District assumed oversight of all Kuwait foreign military sales and military financing projects, representing an exponential growth in total portfolio value of more than $1.6 billion.
“Over the same time that TAE was growing its portfolio and managing projects in four countries, a tremendous effort was made to properly de-scope and close out hundreds of construction-related contracts in Afghanistan,” said Lt. Col Peter Ammerman, a Texas Army National Guard military engineer and interim commander upon Reed’s departure.
“That success story, among many others, was specifically highlighted during our first-ever staff assisted visit, which I see as a testament to the hard work and professionalism of the TAE team,” he said.
Today, though barely a year old, the more than 100 deployed Expeditionary District military and civilian volunteer employees understand they play a critical role in the readiness and quality of life for U.S. forces in the Central Command's area of responsibility.
They also know, and accept, that they represent the legacy and spirit of their predecessors, to be ‘always forward’ in their thinking, and charged with providing world-class construction expertise to the warfighters in this region.
Editor’s Note: The Expeditionary District supports Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, in its mission to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria; and provides facilities in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and the NATO Resolute Support mission to train, advise, and assist Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. The Expeditionary District, “Always Forward”, provides project management, planning, engineering, design, environmental support, construction management, and real estate services to U. S. and allied mission partners.