The Transatlantic Expeditionary District gained a new senior leader Aug. 9 during an Assumption of Responsibility Ceremony at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
In a time-honored military tradition, Sgt. Maj. David Kluba assumed the roles and responsibilites of the district's senior enlisted advisor as the district's distinctive red and white colors were passed to him by Expeditionary District Commander Col. Mohammed Rahman, who said that he is encouraged that Kulba is now the custodian of the district's colors.
"Sergeant Maj. Kluba is going to add tremendous value to TAE," said Rahman. "With his excellent interpersonal skills, he is the right leader for our remarkable organization. He is bringing a wealth of knowledge from serving in many different organizations in many different capacities ... we are fortunate to have a seasoned leader like him."
Rahman called the passing of the colors a noble occassion. Transcending mere fabric and pigment, a unit's colors embody the essence of honor, unity and in the Expeditionary District's case, the continuation of a legacy of engineering excellence in the region.
After this symbolic exchange, Kluba emphasized his commitment to provide the highest level of support, guidance, professionalism to the Expeditionary team. As a principal advisor to the commander, Kluba said that he is resolved to help further strengthen partnerships and capacity that supports Soldiers, civilians and partner forces while prioritzing safety, quality of life and district morale in one of the most complex engineering environments in the world.
Kluba said that his faith in God and family have led him to this position and that without them he could not have made it to what the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy motto describes as "Ultima" -- latin for "final" or "the utmost" -- the culminating stages of leadership and responsibility for enlisted Soldiers in the Army.
"First of all I would like to thank God -- without him nothing would be available," said Kluba who then went on to thank his family. "Theresa, my kids ... Xavier, Sebastian, Jackson, Jacoby and Sara -- this is my third year away so you've held it down ... without you guys I wouldn't be here."
Kluba also thanked Transatlantic Division leadership for placing special trust and confidence in Kluba's ability to lead a diverse formation of Soldiers and civilians from myriad districts and units across the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Engineer Regiment.
Established May 15, 2021 from the merger of the Transatlantic Afghanistan District and Task Force Essayons, the Expeditionary District remains the only forward-deployed district in the #USACE inventory. Since its incept, the district has remained thoroughly engaged throughout the Central Command area of responsibility closing out hundreds of contracts; providing design, contracting, construction and quality assurance support to a multitude of projects and is responsible for the execution of programs valued at $1.5 billion with $700M in active projects.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers only forward-deployed district welcomed its newest commander here July 6 as the district continues its pursuit of engineering excellence in the Central Command area of responsibility.
The reins to the caravan, as the district is known colloquially, were passed to Col. Mohammed Rahman by outgoing district commander, Lt. Col. Richard Childers during a ceremony officiated by Transatlantic Division Commander Col. William Hannan and attended by local leadership, the district workforce and Kuwait Ministry of Defense partners.
Childers, who has led the Expeditionary District for the past year, emphasized the need for strong partnerships and said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does not do anything alone. "We rely heavily on our partners and the relationships that we've built at every level to accomplish our mission," he said. Childers went on to say that Hannan set the bar for effectively partnering with stakeholders while the two worked together during their time in the Northwest Division. "I am a better leader because of the time that you invested in me and more importantly, thank you for the genuine concern and care that you've demonstrated for our people," said Childers.
Childers, also thanked the Middle East District leadership, corporate board, program managers, branch chiefs, area engineers, deputy commanders and senior enlisted advisors for their collective role in providing engineering solutions and expertise in a challenging region where nothing is ever easy, according to Childers.
"You are the brain trust of this organization. You fight through the weird, atypical and unexpected daily friction of our dynamic and multi-faceted mission ... you drive delivery and I am forever grateful to each of you for your leadership and dedication to finding a way to make it happen everyday."
Childers called his tenure as the Expeditionary District commander an amazing ride and said that the team has more accomplishments that can be mentioned.
"You rose to the occasion," he said to the workforce. "It has been my honor to work along side you. Together, we made this organization better than when we found it."
While the district has provided design, contracting, construction and quality assurance support to multiple projects across the CENTCOM region, Childers said he would be remiss to not mention the support provided to Kuwait.
In 2022, the Expeditionary District executed ten independent, vital contracts at over $12 million, he said. From constructing unit headquarters, air traffic control renovations and equipment storage warehouses for vital stocks of equipment, Childers said that, "these characterize the enduring, effective and expanding U.S.- Kuwaiti military partnership ... and I am glad to have been a part of it."
But perhaps most importantly, Childers paid homage to his family without whom, he said, his success as an Army officer wouldn't be possible. Through 22 years of service, countless moves, work trips and the challenges of military life, Childers said that he is excited to return home to spend some quality time with his loved ones.
"This entire organization owes you a huge debt of gratitude," he said to his family who attended virtually. "I am only able to serve because you continue to hold every other aspect of our family together -- quietly, in the background ... no fanfare, no awards, no report cards, no recognition. You allowed me to give my full attention to the burdens of command."
For the new commander, the opportunity to lead a dedicated, professional organization like the Expeditionary District is a humbling experience and a chance to continue to build partnerships, capacity and standing as the executor of engineering excellence in the region.
"We are the definition of engineering excellence, not just in the U.S., but all over the world," said Rahman. "Our civilian workforce is the bedrock of this organization. You work very hard and provide 110 percent of your skills to make a difference in this world. I thank you from the bottom of my heart."