Tetra Tech Team Successfully Readies Large Iraq Airbase on a Stringent Schedule
At nearly 6,200 acres, Balad Air Base (AB) was the second-largest U.S. base in Iraq when it was turned over to the Iraqi Air Force in November 2011. Its two runways each extend more than 11,200 feet. The base was home to as many as 36,000 personnel and contractors during U.S. occupation.
Our team, based in Framingham, Massachusetts, distinguished themselves by supporting a major transformation at Balad AB. We helped prepare Balad AB for 36 Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft and associated personnel—a notoriously complex and challenging procedure known as a beddown. Buildings and infrastructure were carefully planned and designed to support vital aircraft operations within a stringent, accelerated schedule.
The beddown of this major weapon system in the Middle East was performed under a $7.2 million fixed-price task order for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Middle East District (MED). Delivering the F-16s was part of U.S. Foreign Military Sales contracts with the Iraq Air Force, valued at more than $1 billion. Our effective project management maintained the critical path toward sending the first 18 aircraft to Balad AB by September 2014.
In just 11 months, project manager Brian Thorne’s team provided 10 full design-build request for proposal (RFP) packages for 70 mission-essential facilities. The team addressed everything from rehabilitation of existing utilities and repair of pavement to new construction. The task order earned multiple commendations from MED’s U.S. Air Force, U.S. Department of State, and Iraq Air Force end customers.
The MED project manager recognized Tetra Tech as “a consummate team player throughout this project.” He noted that the team “did not miss a single scheduled delivery during the design-build RFP development.” He characterized this achievement as remarkable, given major program changes that included relocating the beddown to Balad AB from its original planned location at Al Asad AB.
Effective collaboration was instrumental to project success. Thorne, facilities manager Natalie Brown, and infrastructure manager Dan St. Marie called on multiple Tetra Tech disciplines for help. The team identified seven specialty subcontractors to provide technical capacity. They established close cooperation through weekly briefings, regularly scheduled design conferences, and planning meetings with more than a dozen project end users and stakeholders in the United States and Iraq. Consistent communication helped avoid delays by ensuring that the needs, concerns, and mission requirements of all project stakeholders were continuously addressed.
Tetra Tech met an aggressive 10-day schedule to assess the enormous facility by deploying 12 expatriate personnel within just 15 days of Notice to Proceed. Early preparations and Tetra Tech’s knowledge of the process helped us avoid potential delays from Iraq’s visa process, which typically takes 30 to 45 days. Applying lessons learned from Tetra Tech’s historical success working in-country, we obtained our own security and subcontracted three Iraqi engineers to facilitate on-site interviews with Iraq Air Force personnel. The Tetra Tech team was one of the first to work in Iraq without U.S. troop-supported security since the drawdown of forces occurred. Three field team groups worked in parallel to complete the facility, infrastructure, and pavements evaluations quickly and thoroughly. A specialty firm completed the pavements evaluation, with independent technical review by Tetra Tech.
Tetra Tech earned perfect scores for architecture-engineering services and design quality on the end-customer evaluation returned to MED. “After 10 plus years providing services to MED under three contracts, we strive to provide those services better and faster than our competitors, while maintaining project margins,” says David George, Tetra Tech’s MED program manager. “The Balad beddown project is a perfect example of success in those efforts.”
Tetra Tech was selected to complete the next beddown survey in Iraq at Ali AB. This is the third time that MED has selected Tetra Tech for beddown surveys in Iraq and highlights our ability to deliver project excellence and earn customer satisfaction.
Tetra Tech plans to expand this corporate responsibility program to additional states and school districts in the near future.