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Construction branch becomes division, sees growth in FMS projects overseas

Lockheed Martin and Japanese Air Self-Defense Force personnel work together to taxi in the arrival of the first foreign military sales F-35A onto the 944th Fighter Wing ramp Nov. 28, 2016, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate’s Construction Division is responsible for supporting foreign military sales construction projects overseas and ensuring allies have the proper facilities in place for American weapon systems. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

Lockheed Martin and Japanese Air Self-Defense Force personnel work together to taxi in the arrival of the first foreign military sales F-35A onto the 944th Fighter Wing ramp Nov. 28, 2016, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate’s Construction Division is responsible for supporting foreign military sales construction projects overseas and ensuring allies have the proper facilities in place for American weapon systems. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – In recognition of the growing number of foreign military sales construction projects overseas and the increasing impact the projects have on the total FMS enterprise, the Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate recently elevated its Construction Branch to the division level.

With the change, the new division will receive additional resources including more people to work with program offices and manage projects around the world.

“This is a big deal for us,” said Dr. Carlos Braziel, chief of the FMS Construction Division. “There’s a lot of infrastructure requirements right now. The Air Force needs an office that can manage the global requirements and provide input to program offices, articulate timelines and concerns to everyone so we can stay on schedule. Being a division will strengthen our relationship with FMS stakeholders and better represent what we bring to the fight and that’s construction.”

Dr. Tom Williams, engineer program manager with the division, added that the new change helps ensure that construction related issues are not forgotten and are included early in the FMS process.

The office’s role in foreign military sales is significant and key to improving the interoperability of the U.S. Air Force and coalition nations.

Before any American weapon system – including aircraft, munitions and training equipment – are delivered to foreign partners, there has to be infrastructure in place to support it.

The division works closely with allied nations in their home countries to build and maintain structures the weapon systems need to operate. This includes building bases, constructing air fields, strengthening and expanding runways, and designing training facilities, dining halls, living quarters, hangars and maintenance facilities at these locations.”

“Without a good base or without the right facilities, the partner nation will not be able to perform its mission,” said Braziel. “For example, the partner may have a runway from the 1960’s that may not be able to handle the number of passes from a larger aircraft and needs to be updated. We provide the support to upgrade the runway. In addition, we also support the training piece, like flight simulators to keep pilots up-to-date on the latest tactics and maintain proficiency.”

The division’s work to build and sustain facility and infrastructure capabilities for international partners is important to the FMS enterprise and key to American national security said David Kovacs, Branch Chief, Saudi Arabia program.

We are just a small piece of the overall [FMS] execution big picture but an important one, Kovacs added.

Over the past year the office has seen a 64 percent increase in construction projects and is currently managing $5.6 billion in active projects and growing. Within the next couple of years the office could see an additional $2 billion in work.

“The increase in projects is attributed to the addition of large programs in the Middle East and also the Indo-Pacific and Africa areas of responsibility,” said Jeff Todd, Indo-Pacific/Europe/Iraq Branch Chief.  Most recently, we have participated in discussions for new programs in Europe which will generate significant facility and infrastructure requirements.”