US Army Corps of Engineers
Albuquerque District

Albuquerque Team “Reaches Back” to Afghanistan

Published Nov. 1, 2012
Albuquerque District’s reach back team consists of: (back row) Paul Rebarchik, Lance Faerber, James Vigil (middle row) Ben Alanis, Art Maestas, Bruce Jordan, Bill Loveland, Jim Marshall, Chris Velasquez (front row) Regina Schowalter, Kathy Mayer, Karen Irving, Francesca Thomas, and Diana Keeran. Not pictured: Charles Agee, Richard Banker, Steve Buckel, Tom Bueno, Corina Chavez, Bryan Estvanko, Paul Gendron, Tim Kreitinger, Matthias Mayerhofer, Sonia Murdock, Stephanie Padilla, Brian Sanchez, and Erica Talley.

Albuquerque District’s reach back team consists of: (back row) Paul Rebarchik, Lance Faerber, James Vigil (middle row) Ben Alanis, Art Maestas, Bruce Jordan, Bill Loveland, Jim Marshall, Chris Velasquez (front row) Regina Schowalter, Kathy Mayer, Karen Irving, Francesca Thomas, and Diana Keeran. Not pictured: Charles Agee, Richard Banker, Steve Buckel, Tom Bueno, Corina Chavez, Bryan Estvanko, Paul Gendron, Tim Kreitinger, Matthias Mayerhofer, Sonia Murdock, Stephanie Padilla, Brian Sanchez, and Erica Talley.

Besides continuing to send our employees to assist “in country,” Albuquerque District is now supporting operations in Afghanistan at home by providing design support for four Afghanistan National Army construction projects.  This work is called “reach back.”

Two of the District’s branch chiefs, Art Maestas and Ben Alanis, recognized that the employees here had the expertise and capability to respond to requests for support from Afghanistan North District, referred to as “TAN,” who was tasked with completing several fast-track construction projects. The branch chiefs knew they could quickly step forward to help since several of Albuquerque District’s employees had deployed to Afghanistan previously and were familiar with the construction requirements there.  Maestas, himself, has deployed more than once.

The District took responsibility for four projects, each with multiple facilities: Camp Scorpion Special Operation Force Training Facility, Camp Commando Phase 3, Armor Branch School, and Infantry Branch School.  All of these facilities will help enhance training operations.

Program Manager Tom Bueno quickly organized a technical team of employees with experience in design, specifications, budgeting, and contracting.  He also brought the Kansas City District training team to Albuquerque for a day to get the team here up to speed.  Bueno knew the first step was to have the technical team members review the scope of requirements to start developing the contracting document proposals to award the projects.

“From the start, the team’s professionalism was clearly evident, and their firm commitment to the task at hand was a good indication of success for the projects,” Bueno said.

The technical team quickly reviewed the project requirements and interposed them in the specifications.

The two major components reviewed were the site layouts and the architectural designs.  General engineering members James Vigil, Corina Chavez and Chris Velasquez started on site layouts, while Architect Jim Marshall selected the standard designs and inputted the specifications for new designs and renovations.  Mechanical Engineer Bill Loveland, Electrical Engineer Dwayne Agee and Structural Engineer Steve Buckel incorporated input from their respective sections. These members meet on a weekly basis, communicating with people at TAN on changes and corrections to the request for proposals.

Meanwhile, Bruce Jordan, along with Maestas and Alanis, completed an internal technical review of the request for proposals.  Jordan is another employee who served in Afghanistan.

The District was fortunate to have Lance Faerber and Paul Rebarchik coordinate drawings and file transfers, and Faerber helped establish a relationship with TAN’s engineering section through connections he made during a previous deployment.

Once the design aspects were finished, cost estimations were completed by Matthias Mayerhofer, with Sonia Murdock’s assistance, and these estimations were crucial for advertising.  Mayerhofer, another employee who had deployed previously, understood the cost estimating particulars for Afghanistan projects, and this knowledge proved vital.

Compiling the requirements for unfamiliar and changing mandates was no small task for the specifications team of Paul Gendron, Brian Sanchez, Stephanie Padilla, Bryan Estvanko and Richard Banker.  They took all the team’s technical inputs passed on from the Transatlantic Division in Winchester, Virginia, and resourcefully put together request for proposals for contracting.

Four contract specialists: Kathy Mayer, Karin Irving, Francesca Thomas, and Diana Keeran worked with the contract document preparation.  They were assisted by Erica Talley, another employee who just returned from Afghanistan.

In the background, Attorney Regina Schowalter, yet another employee who has deployed to Afghanistan, worked systematically to complete the legal review to ensure that contracting actions went smoothly.

As the District moves to the next step, Source Selection Boards, the projects are ever closer to construction.

The epitome of a team effort, all of the employees had to establish partnerships and communicate well with each other to reach goals.  Many have expressed satisfaction when seeing project mile-stones completed, and their work was often validated during conference calls each week with Transatlantic Division, which were necessary to thoroughly coordinate efforts.

On a recent conference call, TAN District Commander Colonel Alfred Pantano, said he is truly thankful for the reach back support provided by districts like Albuquerque to help accomplish the Corps’ mission in Afghanistan.

Since 2002, the Corps has supported national efforts in Afghanistan.  The Corps has two districts in the country.  Afghanistan Engineer District-North is located in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, and, in 2009, with an increasing in-theater engineering mission to provide facilities for more than 30,000 U.S. and Coalition troops, the Corps stood up Afghanistan Engineer District-South in Kandahar.  Together, they play a vital role in establishing a secure and stable environment, mostly by building police stations, army bases, roads, and other infrastructure projects, plus facilities for U.S. and Coalition forces.