Memorial Day: Remembrance and Celebration by America's Volunteers in Afghanistan
By J.D. Hardesty
Afghanistan Engineer District-North
KABUL, Afghanistan — "There are few callings more fulfilling than service to our nation in the military," noted Col. Christopher W. Martin, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Afghanistan Engineer District-North Commander, to all of the volunteers forward deployed and supporting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in northern Afghanistan. "Unfortunately, in war, many troops pay the ultimate sacrifice … let us honor the fallen by remembering those who have served, suffered and given their lives in defense of country."
Deployed Corps of Engineers employees, service members and supporting contractors celebrated much like their families stateside with a day of rest filled with an American barbeque, horse shoes, basketball, volleyball, a tug-o-war, movies and other activities.
Sharing a Memorial Day celebration in a war zone provides a unique meaning to those who serve here.
Martin expressed to the team he leads that, "Every person in the district who so willingly volunteered to support our military by deploying in this time of crisis has much to be proud of. Every day you support our military so they can focus on the fight, and you provide hope for Afghanistan and its people for a brighter tomorrow."
The Corps of Engineers is the primary organization building military bases, police stations, roads, air strips and other infrastructure projects in Afghanistan to increase the country's stability, security and economy.
The Afghanistan Engineer District-North and its five area offices manage more than $10 billion in construction projects spread across the districts 21-provincial operating footprint in northern Afghanistan in the past three years.
In addition to providing ANSF training facilities, border stations, barracks, dining facilities and other quality of life infrastructure, the district implemented a capacity development program, which creates business opportunities as evidenced by the Afghan-based construction firms receiving contract awards. The impact directly supports coalition counterinsurgency objectives while simultaneously increasing security and stability across northern Afghanistan.
Beyond construction management, the district also supports Coalition Forces counterinsurgency efforts to 32 Provincial Reconstruction Teams by providing embedded USACE engineers armed with the expertise to support the NATO-led efforts within the northern part of the country -- Regional Command-East, Regional Command-North and Regional Command-Capital.