Aspiring leaders kick off new season of learning

USACE Middle East District
Published Jan. 17, 2013
A Tier II team attempts to bring a “helium stick” to the ground through use of leaderships skills and teamwork.

A Tier II team attempts to bring a “helium stick” to the ground through use of leaderships skills and teamwork.

Members of the Leadership Development Program Tier II group participate in a problem-solving exercise.

Members of the Leadership Development Program Tier II group participate in a problem-solving exercise.

WINCHESTER, Va. – “Great leaders aren’t born that way – they are groomed,” said Robert Thomas, structural engineer and Leadership Development Program facilitator. “Leadership is something you have to work at. That is why we are here: to train great leaders.”

On Dec. 13, 2012, twelve members of the Middle East District team began their year-long journey into the LDP Tier II program: Danny Banks, Brandon Chance, Jerry Dabkowski, Shufeng Lin, Dan Lyons, Steve Markland, Kevin McLellan, Dave Rackmales, Joe Riley, Kim Sanders, Christine Sawalha, and Jeff Slater. This is the sixth year for the LDP at the district. Tier II is aimed at helping participants get a better understanding and take control of their personal strengths in leading. Typically, Tier II participants have already completed Tier I which is focused on being a valuable team member.

Their formal session started with a presentation by Caryl Hickel, LDP graduate and chief of Project Management Division’s Business Management Branch. She discussed objectives for Tier II participation and what each member should put into the program during the next year. She encouraged participants to grow outside their comfort zones, diversify, and learn, all while having fun.

“During the next year, this group will observe each person’s learning style,” said Brian Ball, project manager and LDP facilitator. “They will learn how they approach different problems and group work. This will help prepare them to recognize and accommodate each person’s style for when they are the leader. The focus is not only on improving one’s self but also improving the organization.”

In past years, the LDP team would travel to an offsite location where they would spend the day participating in team exercises, climbing towers and exploring tree top courses. This group chose a new approach for an offsite, keeping everyone’s feet on the ground, at the nearby park. The afternoon was spent on fun problem-solving activities.

“The rope courses done previously were always more of a personal challenge than a team challenge,” said Daryl Puffinburger, LDP graduate and program facilitator. “This year we wanted to put emphasis on team building and strengthening.”

The three facilitators used a few exercises they had previously learned but also researched and invented a few of their own. They led the group through six activities in several locations throughout the park, allowing everyone to use their creative skills to engage in solving the puzzles.

“During the activities, no one sat back and let everyone else do the work,” said Thomas. “Everyone put in their two cents worth. You are only going to get out what you put into it, and you are only going to help the group if you are able to step out of your comfort zone.”

Deputy Commander Lt. Col. Rusty Sears also participated in the group activities, working with the Tier II members. He commended them on a successful start to their program and added, “My challenge for you is to drop your ego and open yourself up to new experiences.”

At the start of the day, each member was assigned the task of observing someone in the group and how he or she reacted during the activities. As a wrap-up exercise, each person provided feedback on what was learned from that experience.

“Feedback is good,” said Puffinburger. “Feedback is when you have to say the hard things at times. You have to be able to hear it, accept it, and learn from it. I was always taught that feedback is like a gift. You can take it and use it; take it and throw it away; or take it and regift it. You just have to remember that it is not good or bad; it is just learning about yourself and how others perceive you.”

“I am an introvert by nature, but that doesn’t work for a leader,” Sears said. “I got a lot of great feedback in the Army and learned that you can have a lot of respect for someone who can give you that information.”

The facilitators have had good experiences with the LDP programs and expect this LDP group will succeed. This program will continue through September. During this time, they will attend sessions on leadership and mentoring, self awareness and personal effectiveness, leadership philosophy, making a change, empowering people in their relationships, effective communication and making presentations, and understanding the organization and senior leadership.

The group will meet monthly and will be given a large group project that will enable them to apply their new skills. After graduation, the 12 members will each be assigned individual utilization assignments working with various groups and committees that will help improve the organization.

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.

Transatlantic Division News

  • April

    Expertise at the Front: How USACE Experience Powers U.S. Army Success

    In the vast, dynamic landscape of the U.S. Central Command’s Area of Responsibility, the success of the U.S. Army's mission is intricately linked to the infrastructure that supports it. For more than 70 years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has played a crucial role in providing the critical engineering, design, and construction expertise that ensures operational readiness and resilience across the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Levant. The Transatlantic Expeditionary District, as USACE's only forward deployed district in support of contingency operations, continues this legacy by being the sharpest tip of the spear, strengthening partnerships, building capacity, and enhancing security for our nation, allies, and partners.
  • Empowering the Future: USACE Division CSM Visits U.S. Army Engineers in Kuwait

    In a significant event aimed at fostering professional growth among U.S. Army Engineer Regiment Soldiers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division Command Sgt. Maj. Clifton D. Morehouse held an open forum discussion with active duty and reserve component engineer Soldiers deployed to Kuwait. The engagement offered a platform for non-commissioned officers to engage directly with one of USACE’s division level senior enlisted leaders, exploring the pivotal role of engineers in achieving Army objectives and the value of mentorship and professional development within the NCO ranks.
  • Building Resilience and Respect: USACE’s Role in Sustaining Military Capacity at Camp Buehring During Ramadan

    Strategic Infrastructure is crucial for sustaining military capability, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plays a vital role in ensuring its effectiveness. As a part of monthly rotational site visit engagements, U.S. Army Col. Mohammed Z. Rahman, USACE Transatlantic Expeditionary District commander, along with a team of district engineers and the district Safety chief, traveled to Camp Buehring, Kuwait, to review two key projects: the Tactical Equipment Maintenance Facility and the Udairi Landing Zone Transition Repair projects. These engagements exemplify USACE's commitment to operational excellence and project oversight.
  • USACE Strengthens Partnership for Global Infrastructure in Kuwait

    In a significant meeting held on March 17, at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, U.S. Army Col. Mohammed Z. Rahman, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Expeditionary District commander, and Viet Nguyen, Expeditionary District deputy district engineer, engaged in strategic discussions with The U.S. Ambassador and the Economic Counselor from the American Embassy in Kuwait. The engagement centered around enhancing the role of USACE in the context of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, PGII, and its implications for U.S. and allied economic and national security interests.
  • March

    USACE Transatlantic Division employee embarks on Army Coaching Program journey

    A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division employee is undertaking an intense talent management program in order to help fellow employees in their careers; the first employee in the organization to do so.
  • February

    USACE Transatlantic Division: Setting Extraordinary Standards as ‘Partner of Choice’ in CENTCOM AOR

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division stands as a pivotal force in the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility. Since the 1950s, the Division has actively shaped the landscape of engineering, design, and construction across the Middle East. Transforming from its initial focus on basic military construction, the Division now leads sophisticated, large-scale infrastructure projects, demonstrating a deep commitment to building capacity and enhancing security in the region. By setting and consistently upholding extraordinary operational standards, it has established itself as the ‘partner of choice.’
  • January

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division Commander Promoted to Brigadier General

    Col. William C. Hannan, Jr., U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division commander, was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General during a ceremony here Jan. 16.
  • October

    On Solid Ground: Army Values are the Foundation of USACE Transatlantic Division’s Mission

    With a history of more than 70 years in the region, the Transatlantic Division oversees more than $5 billion in projects including military construction programs, force protection innovations, and security cooperation initiatives, strengthening Army readiness, enhancing vital infrastructure, and deepening global partnerships. Each action reinforces the Army's unwavering commitment to its service members and global partners.
  • USACE Innovation: The Key to 'Building Strong' in the CENTCOM AOR

    For the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division, innovation is the essential energy that drives success. From the initial development phase of a project, through the design and construction, and well into the operational phase, innovation drives the relentless pursuit of excellence, supporting sustainable strategies and fostering the development of long-lasting, reliable solutions.
  • September

    USACE Transatlantic Division supports Typhoon Mawar disaster relief

    A staff member assigned to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division was activated and sent to Guam from June until July to assist FEMA, federal partners and territorial officials’ response to the typhoon which caused significant impacts to essential services throughout portions of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, including water, energy and transportation.