Army Engineers Help to Rebuild Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — When the task to help rebuild and recon­struct Afghanistan was estab­lished, Army Col. Thomas H. Mag­ness IV, the com­man­der of Afghanistan Engi­neer Dis­trict-North, ini­tial­ly had con­cerns about how much could be accom­plished.
“We’d shake our heads and be con­cerned about the abil­i­ty for that con­trac­tor to fin­ish,” Mag­ness, a U.S. Army Corps of Engi­neers offi­cer, said yes­ter­day dur­ing a DoDLive Blog­gers’ Round­table.

That con­cern, he said, was short lived. Since then, the Afghanistan recon­struc­tion endeav­or has pro­gressed on a sol­id foun­da­tion of accom­plish­ment and pro­fes­sion­al­ism. “Now we are award­ing most of our con­tracts to Afghan con­trac­tors. They are com­pe­tent, pro­fes­sion­al, safe on the job site and ful­ly capa­ble of com­plet­ing the projects,” Mag­ness said. 

Recon­struct­ing Afghanistan involves part­ner­ship and close work­ing rela­tion­ships with the Afghan peo­ple, Mag­ness said, not­ing the pace of rebuild­ing is faster and more effi­cient than ever before. 

“We have tran­si­tioned from being in con­struc­tion, to fin­ish­ing projects at the rate of one com­plet­ed project per day,” Mag­ness said. “I’ve nev­er seen this kind of con­struc­tion pace. But I’ve also nev­er seen a com­mu­ni­ty — in this case, the engi­neer­ing and con­struc­tion com­mu­ni­ty — that has grown as much as it has. It has risen to the task.” So what exact­ly is the U.S. doing to help rebuild Afghanistan? They’re doing just that, Mag­ness said, lit­er­al­ly recon­struct­ing the foun­da­tions of the country’s infra­struc­ture from the ground up. 

“We are putting in elec­tric trans­mis­sion lines, we are doing roads, and we’re doing repairs on some key strate­gic bridges,” Mag­ness said. “We’re also doing infra­struc­ture projects, all of which is geared towards being able to hand this mis­sion off to the Afghans.” 

The Afghan engi­neers and con­struc­tion work­ers under his purview are “the best of the best and these guys are capa­ble, they’re com­pe­tent,” Mag­ness said. “For the most part, we recruit them to stay and work on projects near their homes.” 

The Army Corps of Engi­neers also is com­mit­ted to ensur­ing that Afghan engi­neers and con­struc­tion work­er receive the prop­er train­ing to excel –- for today and into the future, Mag­ness said. 

“We’re not leav­ing this to hap­pen on its’ own,” he said. “We are invest­ing in the [Afghan] uni­ver­si­ties pret­ty sig­nif­i­cant­ly so that we can con­tin­ue to pro­duce those qual­i­ty engineers.” 

The holis­tic approach to rebuild­ing Afghanistan does­n’t stop with just brick-and-mor­tar facil­i­ties. The Army Corps of Engi­neers, Mag­ness said, also is seek­ing more effi­cient meth­ods to pro­duce ener­gy in Afghanistan. 

Solar ener­gy is one option, Mag­ness said. Using the abun­dance of sun­light in Afghanistan as a source of ener­gy, he said, could pro­vide a bet­ter way to increase elec­tric pow­er. For exam­ple, he said, a demon­stra­tion project in Kab­ul is designed to pro­vide ener­gy for sev­er­al build­ings –- an office build­ing, guard tow­ers, lights and ammu­ni­tion bunkers –- using a solar and wind tur­bine. The Corps of Engi­neers also is work­ing with the may­or of Kab­ul to employ solar ener­gy to pow­er street lights. 

“There is no reli­able elec­tric grid here in this city of five mil­lion peo­ple, and so we looked at putting in solar street lights as a way to pro­vide safe­ty, secu­ri­ty, improve com­merce in an oth­er­wise dark city at night — part of the mayor’s cam­paign to light up the city at night,” Mag­ness said. The Corps also has estab­lished its own solar-pow­ered light­ing demon­stra­tion project, he said. 

“These lights are work­ing great,” Mag­ness said. “We’re also look­ing at oth­er infra­struc­ture [improve­ments] that include putting solar lights on some of our larg­er instal­la­tions and big­ger projects. Those [projects] are all geared towards cre­at­ing a more sus­tain­able Afghan infra­struc­ture.” Mag­ness has noth­ing but high praise for his Afghan team. 

“They believe in what they’re doing, and I real­ly believe in them,” he said. “If you want a face to this mis­sion, it is the Afghan engi­neer, it’s the Afghan con­struc­tion work­er — male and female — who have turned a cor­ner and tru­ly will be a major part of the future of this country.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →