Commander’s Column: Around the District

Portland District Commander Col. Jose L. Aguilar

Portland District Commander Col. Jose L. Aguilar

Portland District Teammates,

I am writing to you upon the conclusion of the Affiliated Tribes of the Northwest Indians conference, which took place in Spokane Sept. 14 through 17.  There were nearly 60 tribes represented and I engaged with many of our regions’ tribal partners and chairmen during my time at the event.  Northwestern Division Commander Brig. Gen. Scott Spellmon and District commanders Col. John Buck and Lt. Col. Tim Vail, from Seattle and Walla Walla districts, respectively, also attended.  As I have stated many times, relationships are critical to everything that we do and our relationships with the tribal members in our area of operations remains strong.

For the past few months, Portland District has focused on year-end execution.  Thank you for all of your efforts to finish strong for fiscal year 15.

The District conducted a Continuity of Operations COOP exercise at The Dalles Lock and Dam Aug. 25.  Thanks to Ron Twiner and his team for hosting this event which involved a full accountability exercise for the District.  Another emergency exercise led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other participating agencies will happen Oct. 15. There, responders are expected to react to a possible Cascadia event, in which a 9.1-magnitude earthquake impacts our region.  For more about this event, and especially how our dam safety could be impacted, read Scott Clemans’ article “Shake out? Don’t freak out: Dams generally do well in earthquakes” later in this issue.  [As a side note, I want to thank everyone who contributes articles to the Corps’pondent by submitting articles, photos or story ideas.]

With flood season approaching, this is your reminder to dust off your preparedness plans and ensure you have taken appropriate emergency readiness measures for your family, home and car. Do you have emergency kits and action plans for them? And, more importantly, does your family have a plan for how they will contact one another in the event of an emergency?

During August and September, the team hosted Northwestern Division Commander Brig. Gen Spellmon for two days.  He visited several projects and areas and was tremendously impressed with your professionalism and dedication to duty.  We also hosted several leaders from Afghanistan and Iraq to help inform and educate them as they continue to build engineer capacity in their countries.

In terms of upcoming events, watch for information on the update to our history book over the next several months.  As many of you know, our last publication included a history of the District which took us through the year 2000.  The new edition will cover the important work we’ve completed during the past 15 years.  This will be a multi-year effort and we want it to be complete and accurate. If employees, retirees, family members or friends of the District have something to contribute, please contact Matt Rabe in our Public Affairs Office.

Two final items also are happening in the near future.

First, we are updating our FY 16 Standing Order (including our unit battle rhythm, OPLAN and District calendar) which will reduce friction and add predictability in the future.

Second, the District’s Block 300 team members are preparing for an upcoming renovation of the building and workspace.   This enormous undertaking will add some friction during the next year or so – but is worth the short term pain because of the benefits and efficiencies Block 300 occupants will gain for years to come.  Please be patient and start cleaning out your areas now.

By the time you read this, we will have started fiscal year 2016.  With that, happy fiscal new year to all of you – thank you for your continued service to our Nation.

Competence follows Character

Col.  Jose L. Aguilar