Reinforce stability in the ROK: Quality of life construction

by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Osan Air Base

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- This is the eighth in a series of articles relating an overview of the mission at Osan Air Base. The major role Team Osan plays in the Republic of Korea and the extent of its mission will be showcased this week in the way Team Osan's Airmen "reinforce stability in the ROK". Next week, there will be a wrap-up article and accompanying video summing up the four principles and how they're accomplished to keep the mission running here.

"This is what victory looks like," is a phrase oft-repeated at ceremonies by Col. Brook Leonard, 51st Fighter Wing commander. These words are usually in reference to things like the base's renovated Enlisted Club, the newly-erected Senior NCO dorms or the popular chain-restaurant Chili's. To some, calling an international burger establishment an indication of "victory" can seem over the top, but the point is that quality of life establishments are a product of stability, which was earned in the Republic of Korea in July of 1953 with the signing of an Armistice between feuding North and South Korean militaries. Ever since, preserving that stability has been a primary goal of United States forces on peninsula, a job the members of Team Osan accomplish not just through sorties and flights, but through the establishment of permanent, high quality of life facilities on base.

Before these quality of life facilities become Osan staples, they need to be designed, contracted, approved and constructed. The construction projects on base are brought to realization with coordination from multiple agencies including the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Far-East District, and the 411th Contracting Support Battalion.

There are currently more than 400 appropriated, non-appropriated and host-nation funded projects either on going, in design or being programmed for Osan Air Base, totaling more than $3 billion in planned spending. Indicators like "appropriated, non-appropriated and host-nation funded" are given to prospective projects based on the planned funding for the project. That kind of mass logistical and monetary expense involves coordination between extra-service and extra-national agencies.

"Managing construction projects is a team effort where the customer, base civil engineers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Far-East District and the 411th Contracting Support Battalion all have an important role to play," said Capt. Christian E. Ocasio, 51st CES engineering flight commander.

The 51st CES is responsible for tracking a project's process, while continuously performing quality assurance checks. Additionally, the mustang engineers also liaison between the base and the host-nation contracting offices, Army Corps project managers and other contractors.

"As the base representative we ensure the customer's requirements are fully met," said Ocasio. "We do this by having our programmers visit the sites and meet with the facility managers and users to accurately define the scope of the projects."

Of course, teamwork and comprehensive coordination are necessary to bring ideas like a new Enlisted Club or modernized Senior NCO dorms to hard reality. The USACE-FED  is a cherished partner of the 51st CES.

"Our quality of life projects here are very important," said Army Maj. Brian Becker, U.S. ACE-FED project engineer. "Looking back at the old facilities on base, we can see how things have improved here in the last 20-30 years."

One example of a recent improvement is the erected-from-nothing Senior NCO dorms, which had the ribbon on it cut Nov. 11, 2014. The new dorm will provide more than 250 Senior NCOs with single-occupancy apartment rooms, with each unit having its own bedroom, living room, toilet room, kitchen, closet and washer and dryer unit.

The new dormitory was an example of the U.S. and ROK alliance working together to enhance quality of life, and thus stability, at Osan AB.

"This is an amazing facility because it is a perfect example of craft and art coming together to deliver the perfect project on time and on budget," said Army Col. Bryan Green, U.S. ACE-FED commander, at the dormitory ribbon cutting. "I am thrilled [about this dorm] because every senior NCO that goes in there will get to experience this new style of dormitories on base."

The relationship between the host-nation contractors, the 51st CES and the USACE-FED is a strong one according to Ocasio and Becker.

"The 51st CES and FED have a strong working relationship," said Ocasio. "We have weekly coordination meetings and communicate daily. Within the organization we have civilian, Air force, Army and contractors all working for a common goal. It is truly one team, one fight."

Together, these units helps reinforce stability in the ROK while building partnerships across services and nations.

"It all goes back to partnering and teamwork," said Becker. "Nothing gets done here without a good working relationship. We have a fantastic relationship with the host nation, 51st FW and CE flight where everyone feels valued."

Stability, like construction, involves patience and long-term planning to achieve. The 51st CES and U.S. Army FED help keep this common goal secure with a lasting legacy of high-quality facilities helping make Osan a more permanent, stable and habitable assignment.

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