Sergeant called to duty as civilian with US Army Corps of Engineers

Photo of Master Sgt. Greg Greis wearing individual body armor, headed to a construction site.

Photo of Master Sgt. Greg Greis wearing individual body armor, headed to a construction site.

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- What happens when a veteran Pennsylvania Air National Guard master sergeant is moved to action?  The Corps of Engineers, the United States and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan all benefit.

Greg Greis, who has been with the Guard 23 years, saw something his brother posted which articulated Greis' feelings about civilians serving in war zones in support of our nation.

The post read:
"To recognize the important work, dedication and commitment of the Civilians serving as Department of the Army employees, the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army announced the establishment of the Army Civilian Corps in a memorandum dated Jun. 19, 2006.
Read the Memorandum:
Army Civilian Corps Creed
I am an Army Civilian - a member of the Army Team
I am dedicated to our Army, our Soldiers and Civilians
I will always support the mission
I provide stability and continuity during war and peace
I support and defend the Constitution of the United States and consider it an honor to serve our Nation and our Army
I live the Army values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage
I am an Army Civilian"

"I always felt the average American didn't realize the contributions other citizens are making in the defense of our nation," Greis explained. "I wanted to be part of the effort.

I believe the efforts of the civilian force were not emphasized enough and the civilian effort is equally important if we are to get the mission accomplished."

The Minersville, Pa. native volunteered to support Operation Enduring freedom with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Kabul, Afghanistan. The district, comprised of approximately 500 military and civilian personnel in Kabul and throughout the northern and eastern regions of Afghanistan, directs the construction of hundreds of projects designed to reinforce the country's infrastructure after more than 30 years of war.

Greis, a graduate of Gwynedd-Mercy College and Minersville High School, has been a member of Transatlantic District-North (TAN) since September. He is a construction control representative currently working to complete three of his eight projects. The value of the three nearing completion is more than $21.5 million and range from a diesel power plant and storage facility to logistics school facilities for the Afghanistan National Army.

The irony of Greis' volunteering to serve as a civilian is that he deployed in uniform twice; once to Qatar with the Air Force during Operation Enduring Freedom in late 2010 through 2011 and to Bosnia for Operation Allied Force in 1999, where he went while assigned to Aviano Air Base.

The 51-year-old father and grandfather is a union electrician and works in the States for the Philadelphia District on the remediation of a $600 million Environmental Protection Agency Welsbach superfund site as a construction control representative.

His experience and maturity have helped him earn fast rapport with the Afghan quality assurance employees who work with him.

"The best part of my job with TAN is mentoring the local national quality assurance representatives and teaching them how to be good inspectors. They are quick studies and eager to perform well. Their progress is very encouraging," Greis said.

Greis' career with the Corps of Engineers began in 2009. He enlisted into the Air Force in 1982 out of Wilkes Barre, Pa. and joined the Air National Guard after three and a half years in the Air Force.

He has earned the reputation, among the Afghan workers, of a problem solver. Greis explained, "Because I was able to work a solution to one challenge, every time there is a hiccup the Afghan workers will 'look for the American' for a resolution. They're perfectly capable of working it out, but they depend on us because we have a good relationship.  Having worked with other service members worldwide and contractors back in the States allows me to get my point across more effectively."

Paul C. Holcomb, P.E., Kabul Area Engineer had this to say about Greis, "Greg demonstrates absolute integrity in all that he does. He has passion for the mission and doing the right thing for each of his construction projects. We are very pleased to have someone with his energy and willingness to help our Afghan contractors succeed. Greg is a true example of the professional construction managers we have serving in USACE Transatlantic District North."

Greis' time with TAN is only a year currently, but there is little doubt he's made an impression and served as an exceptional American ambassador. He's also personified service as many other Corps employees have in Afghanistan.