|For Immediate Release|
May 26, 2012
|Contact: Mark Ray, (540) 667-5705
Lt. Col. Gordon "Mark" Bartley served as the officer in charge of the Herat Area Office from May 2011 through April 2012. Before he left Afghanistan, he gave a short interview to the district's Engineering Freedom magazine about things he felt helped make his tour and his office a success.
EF: First, give us some background - how long have you been the OIC here in Herat?
MB: It will be exactly 11 months boots on the ground. This isn't my first Corps of Engineers assignment. I served as resident office officer in charge in Okinawa, Japan for 2 years.
EF: Was this your first deployment? If you've been deployed before, who were the earlier deployments with, and what did you do on those deployments?
MB: I was deployed in Iraq the latter part of '04 and most of '05. I was with the 35th Design Management Section, 35th Engineer Brigade (Ft. Leonard Wood), attached to the 20th Engineer Brigade (Ft. Bragg) Our 17-man section designed bridges, detainee facilities and compounds to include incinerators with waste water treatment plants. For about half my tour I was attached to the TF-134 Detainee Ops as the 05 Staff Engineer.
EF: What are some of the things that you feel made the Herat Area Office work well during your time here? In particular, what do you think are some of the things that you, as Area OIC, did that helped the office to work well?
MB: We have a lot of talent here and they know what they're doing -I did my best to let them do their jobs. For most of them, this isn't their first rodeo and they accepted the hardships associated with being deployed.
My key focus was constantly improving the morale was my key focus. I had three rules:
1) Respect for the Individual; yup, the "golden rule".
2) The "10-foot Rule"; Smile when you get within 10 feet of someone and greet them with a positive demeanor, always, even if you're having a bad day. They may also be having a bad day but one's extended positive nature just maybe enough to brighten their day.
3) The "Sundown Rule"; Respond before close of business to every email, voicemail message, and in person request. If you can't give someone the answer they are looking for, at least acknowledge that you've received and working on their request.
These 3 things are all conducive to a positive command climate that all enjoy being a part of.
EF: What are your lessons learned - things you might have done differently, or that could have helped make the office work even better?
MB: Probably the most frustrating thing is the constant personnel turn over. Turnover is an issue not only with the USACE personnel but the security teams and also with other ISAF components. Most Air Force personnel are only here six months, for example. It was a challenge to manage, but there is not much can be done about it, it is just the way it is. Bottom line, what would I have done differently? Not a thing.
EF: What would you like to add/what haven't we talked about that you think would be useful to other OICs/Area engineers?
MB: There are published "Roles and Responsibilities" for the area and resident office OICs and area and resident engineers. The OIC is responsible for the health, safety and well-being of the people in his or her office, along with liaison with military stakeholders - battle space owners, Afghan army and police leadership. The office engineer is responsible for making sure that the projects get built. When the OIC and the office engineer work together, they act as combat multipliers to each other. If they don't click, it makes it hard for the Area Office and its Resident Offices to accomplish the mission. Bottom line: Learn your lane, do your job, support those that rely on you.
USACE's Afghanistan Engineer District-South provides design and construction services throughout southern Afghanistan to support the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan. The work is carried out in Regional Commands South, Southwest and West with the goal of achieving counterinsurgency effects and bolstering the Afghan Government's services to its people.
Please click here for more news and features. Follow us on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/US-Army-Corps-of-Engineers-Afghanistan-Engineer-District-South/199033262376 and find photos of the district's work and people on our Flickr page.