SOUTHWEST ASIA – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plays a
vital role in supporting Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), said Col. Jerry
Farnsworth, Combined Joint Task Force engineer.
“USACE has professionals and competencies that we wouldn’t
have otherwise, such as dedicated project managers, real estate professionals,
Forward Engineer Support Teams and others,” he said. “They bring a broad range
of capabilities that enable the CJTF to accomplish the mission.”
Farnsworth has responsibilities in a wide array of missions,
including ensuring mobility of forces, geospatial mapping, personnel movement,
protection and sustainment.
“Engineers set the theater conditions for missions,” he
said. “USACE helps with this.”
Shortly after the Combined Joint Task Force was created,
USACE set up the Transatlantic Division – Kuwait Operational Command Post
“One of the lessons learned from Afghanistan and Iraq is to
stand up a small cell of USACE personnel to understand early mission
requirements and develop options the task force commander can consider using,”
said Lt. Col. Todd Heuser, Transatlantic Division Operational Command Post
officer in charge.
Part of the Operational Command Post is a USACE liaison
“A USACE liaison engages with us and helps access situations
and recommends actions that the Corps has the capabilities to do.” said
Farnsworth. “Any projects that we can’t accomplish ourselves, I can always
count on USACE to help.”
In addition to the OCP, the Corps provides several other
important assets to support OIR.
Various Forward Engineer Support Teams (FEST) conduct
infrastructure assessments at multiple sites, which could potentially be used
for training or to house Coalition Service members on advise-and-assist
assignments. Once the assessments are complete, the teams develop potential
solutions for upgrades and refurbishments to those sites. The teams are made up
primarily of USACE civilians, although an Army reserve FEST team has also been
deployed to support OIR. FEST teams could be sent anywhere within the U.S.
Central Command area of responsibility to conduct missions.
The 249th Engineer Battalion, or Prime Power, has also
deployed a platoon to perform electrical assessments and develop solutions to
power requirements for potential sites. Prime Power currently has an organic
power plant ready for deployment to support contingency operations if needed.
The battalion also has a member on each FEST team to conduct electrical
assessments at the sites.
“FEST teams and Prime Power have specialized capabilities
that can move to an area of operations and provide assessment and plan what we
need next,” Farnsworth said.
USACE has also deployed a dam assessment team to monitor
dams, a tunnel detection team to locate tunnels, real estate professionals that
are negotiating land use agreements with foreign governments, and environmental
professionals to assist the task force commander with establishing theater
environmental policies and track environmental action items.
“The great thing about USACE is the whole USACE enterprise
system,” Farnsworth said. “We can tap into resources across USACE like
specializations such as dam safety, environmental engineering and others.”
Another critical asset USACE brings to the mission is the
USACE Reachback Operations Center, Farnsworth said.
The USACE Reachback Operation Center, part of the U.S. Army
Engineer Research and Development Center, provides a reach back engineering
capability to support contingency and natural disaster response operations.
Deployed units are linked to subject matter experts within the government,
private industry, or academia to research and obtain solutions to complex
“The reachback capabilities have been huge,” Farnsworth
said. “It allows us to tap into professional engineering resources anytime.”
Though the Corps of Engineers plays a vital role in support
to OIR, USACE’s impact to the Central Command area of responsibility extends
beyond just this contingency, Farnsworth, who also serves as the Army Central
Command engineer, said.
“USACE has a huge role in the Central Command area of
responsibility,” he said.
No matter what the threat or contingency, Farnsworth says
USACE is always there and ready to assist.
“I’m thankful for the great support USACE has provided to
the Combined Joint Task Force and Army Central Command,” he said. “It’s been
relevant, responsive and has really benefitted the warfighter in the execution
of the mission.”