Posted on November 8, 2023
No one likes to do the maintenance. That’s true whether talking about a house, a car or multi-million-dollar missile defense infrastructure. Or so says Brian Ball, the chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Middle East District’s (TAM) Procurements and Services Branch.
The branch can provide regular and corrective maintenance for facilities, equipment, procurement of spare parts & consumables, and new or replacement construction for facility related equipment, building renovations as well as training and professional services support.
“We build some really great facilities for our mission partners,” said Ball. “But even the best facilities only last if you maintain them. Our District has had a presence in the Middle East for over 70 years and some of our early projects are still around today. But we’ve also seen cases where we built something, no one does the maintenance on it, and even just a few years later its fallen into a state of disrepair.”
TAM is unique among USACE districts in that most of it’s work is done on behalf of U.S. allied nation partners. When the U.S. sells weapons systems or military equipment (aircraft, missile defense, etc.) through foreign military sales cases, those nations will often pay TAM to build the infrastructure for those systems. Using USACE helps ensure what’s known as a “total package approach and means that the FMS partner will not only receive the actual equipment but that the infrastructure to support it is built by an organization familiar with the requirements. It can also include follow on material such as spare parts and training to help ensure everything is kept in good working order.
Ball said that using his branch benefits his district and USACE as well as their mission partners.
“It’s in our best interest to see the facilities we build reach their full service-life potential and not fall into disrepair,” Ball stated. “Our customers benefit from that increase in facility lifespan and from not having to dedicate their own time and personnel to maintenance activities. We benefit because these big, fancy, impressive buildings we’ve built remain in good condition and can serve as showpieces and points of advertisement for USACE’s design and construction quality.”
According to Ball, one of the biggest challenges of his job is convincing the district’s mission partners to use his services.
“It’s sometimes hard to measure success in a program that’s meant to prevent something bad from happening rather than just building something. What I will say is that I’ve yet to see an instance where a mission partner has asked us to stop providing O&M services on any facility once we’ve put a program in place.”
Ball was also quick to attribute much of the success his branch to the district’s contracting section.
“Anything you could say about the uniqueness of our mission in (TAM) Programs and Project Management, you can say about them in the context of the USACE Contracting Community and our contracting section. “What we do is not unique but the expertise with which we are able to do it providing our mission partners with what they need when they need it is. This is something we’ve developed over time and we’d love to see utilized more and more.”