The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Transatlantic Afghanistan District provides engineering and construction services to support the international effort to increase the country’s stability, security and economy.
Army Corps personnel from around the world deploy to this District to take part in this mission and New York District employees, like Nicholas Emanuel, are playing a big part in this effort.
Emanuel, of New York District’s Contracting Division, recently returned from a 20-month long deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan.
He said his time away taught him more about the Army Corps' capabilities and how his role in the agency can help people in need and build and stabilize a nation.
One of the missions that really stands out in Emanuel's mind is one where he helped construct various water management systems in a community that was desperate for water to survive.
"Due to the lack of funds, knowledge and corruption in Afghanistan the local farmers are greatly affected by the lack of water management. The large dams which provide water management for various regions have not been properly maintained since the 1950s and are mainly worn out or don't work at all therefore the Afghan Local Nationals crops dry up and die,” Emanuel said. “The Army Corps has worked on these dams and when construction is complete they will help the local Afghan Nationals properly manage water which will help produce crops from their local villages. This is important to maintaining a healthy population in Afghanistan."
The dam missions were just a few of many projects Emanuel worked on as a supervisory contracting officer.
"My work mainly involved building infrastructure for the Afghanistan National Security Forces and working on civil works projects that included power systems, construction of irrigation canals and dams."
While performing this work, Emanuel's perspective on the Army Corps changed.
"I knew that the Corps takes on large scale complex engineering projects in the U.S. and now I have seen firsthand how the agency is also versatile and can build anywhere in the world while using non-indigenous materials in a hostile environment."
He says he also learned how our work is different there. "The work in Afghanistan is nation building while the work we do here is more nation sustainment." Knowing that he "may be changing the course of an entire region of the world" was very rewarding for him.