Europe, Middle East Districts Transfer Israel Program Responsibility

After nearly 50 years managing design and construction projects in Israel, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District formally transferred responsibility of that effort to the Middle East District during a ceremony June 3 in Israel.

The U.S. Army Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, and the head of the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s Department of Engineering and Construction, Erez Cohen, presided at the ceremony.

advertisement

The Europe District is part of USACE’s North Atlantic Division, and the Middle East District is part of USACE’s Transatlantic Division. The ceremony paid tribute to the North Atlantic Division’s legacy and focused on the importance of this new alignment under the Transatlantic Division in further strengthening the partnership with U.S. Central Command and USACE.

“I am extremely proud of this mission,” Spellmon said. “And I am confident in the Corps’ ability to continue delivering on it going forward. I know the Transatlantic Division is committed to continuing that partnership in the years to come.”

U.S. Army Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon delivers remarks
The U.S. Army Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon highlights the long history and relationship between USACE and Israel during his remarks at a transfer of authority ceremony June 3. USACE PHOTO BY RICH PUCKETT

The change was linked to the U.S. Central Command’s 2021 assumption of combatant command responsibility of Israel from U.S. European Command. The North Atlantic Division is closely aligned with the U.S. European Command, while Transatlantic Division is linked to USCENTCOM. Cohen stressed that the nearly half a century relationship with the team in Europe has a long tradition of success and incredible impact on Israeli Defense Forces.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel who have been involved in this program for the last 45 years have proven to be professional, determined, committed and worthy of all praise for their contributions to the State of Israel,” Cohen said. “The leaders of the Ministry of Defense and the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) have decided to unify our command and cooperation with USCENTCOM and accordingly we needed to do the transition from North Atlantic Division and Europe District to the Transatlantic Division and Middle East District.”

advertisement

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ connection to its partners in Israel dates back to 1978, with North Atlantic Division personnel managing construction of two Israeli Air Force bases that had to be relocated in compliance with the Camp David Accords. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers set up its first offices in the country in April 1979 and has remained there since.

“The progress that has been made over the years doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” Spellmon stressed. “Our shared success is the result of stellar collaboration.”

Spellmon praised the decades of collaboration and tremendous teamwork with the Israeli Ministry of Defense, the U.S. Embassy in Israel, USACE employees and construction partners over the years.

Head of the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s Department of Engineering and Construction Erez Cohen
The Head of the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s Department of Engineering and Construction Erez Cohen praises the tremendous impact of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers efforts over the nearly 50-year partnership. Cohen spoke June 3, at the USACE transfer of authority ceremony formalizing the transition of the USACE mission in Israel from the Europe District to the Middle East District. USACE PHOTO BY RICH PUCKETT

“There are many challenges ahead of us with the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) funded construction projects… I’m confident that we will be able to meet the challenges ahead under the leadership of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” Cohen added.

Over the course of the relationship USACE worked closely with Israel to help deliver engineering solutions. In 1998, the Europe District managed construction of relocated Israeli military facilities in accordance with the Wye River Accords (managing approximately $320 million in military infrastructure realignment).

advertisement

Currently, USACE partners with the Israeli Ministry of Defense to deliver a more than $1.2 billion program designing and constructing military infrastructure projects throughout Israel. This is done in close coordination with U.S. Central Command and the U.S. Embassy in Israel.

The bulk of the USACE mission in Israel is focused on design and construction of military facilities through the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Military Finance, or FMF, program. USACE also supports Military Construction (MILCON – funded by U.S.), exercise-related construction and research & development in Israel as well.

Archive imagery of bulk cement storage facility
Archive imagery of bulk cement storage facility under construction at Ovda Airbase in Israel in the spring of 1980. COURTESY PHOTO

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mission in Israel also includes plans in the works for delivering more facilities supporting large FMS cases for F-35 aircraft, KC-46A Aerial Refueling Tankers and CH-53K Heavy Lift Helicopters for years to come.

“Today’s transfer of authority continues our commitment to further enhance the long-term bilateral defense relationship between the United States and Israel,” Spellmon said. “To our Israeli partners, I say, ’Thank you’ for your friendship and your longstanding, unbreakable bond with the United States. We have many opportunities ahead of us.”