Military, Interagency and International Services Branch has far-reaching mission

Published Jan. 14, 2014

Jacksonville District’s Military, Interagency and International Services (IIS) Branch marked its 19th anniversary this year with a program featuring Richard Bonner, retired deputy for programs and project management and Jim Boone, retired chief of IIS, both of whom played key roles in the development of the program.

Bonner, referred to as the district’s “grandfather of IIS,” said IIS is one of the few branches that has direct customers. “These customers have an option and can choose whom they want to do business with. We’re a customer-oriented service.”

Jim Boone is regarded as the father of Jacksonville District’s IIS program, serving as the champion for this business line for years at the national and local level. “Without Jim’s dedication, Jacksonville District would not have a MIL-IIS Branch,” said Michael A. Ornella, chief, MIL-IIS Branch.

The IIS program operates on a limited budget of approximately $70 million out of an approximate $500 million district budget; however, the branch contributes approximately 10 percent of the district’s full-time equivalent.

In support of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard, a contract was awarded for operation and maintenance dredging of the Kings Bay entrance channel. The permit process is in coordination with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for the inner channel at Blount Island. The team is also coordinating with the U.S. Navy in preparation for planned dredging at Naval Air Station Mayport next fiscal year, conducting hydrosurveys at Navy Fuel Pier 111, and addressing the potential need for additional Dredged Material Management Area capacity for the Canaveral Naval Ordnance Test Unit.  

Projects in support of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement include emergency electrical repairs on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, renovations to the Krome Service Processing Center in Miami, Fla. Projects are also under way for the DHS, Customs and Border Patrol as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Projects to serve international customers include providing technical assistance on the rehabilitation of the Port of Cap-Haitien,  rural farm road development, review of a dam design in Haiti for the U.S. Agency for International Development and a water resources infrastructure workshop requested by the World Bank for the Caribbean nations of Saint Lucia, Dominica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Jacksonville District also provides reachback support to the Middle East District for their efforts with the Kingdom of Bahrain.

The Defense Environmental Restoration Program for Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) program in Jacksonville is the fourth largest in the Corps. The FUDS team achieved all fiscal year 2013 metrics by processing 50 contract actions via multi-district teams, doubling performance-based contracting obligation metrics for fiscal year 2013; obligating more than $14 million on 112 projects and phases active in fiscal year 2013; achieving regulatory closure of two chemical warfare sites and one petroleum site; achieving phase completion on 15 sites; and completing all six five-year reviews in the first quarter of fiscal year 2013. All of this was achieved despite furloughs of project managers and multi-district technical team members.

The FUDS team also tried new technologies this year. The Mullet Key FUDS project at Fort DeSoto Park, near St. Petersburg, Fla. marked the first time that the Corps has employed the services of explosives detection dogs at a FUDS. The innovative technology is being used for demonstration purposes, to evaluate its potential for further use in the program. A community availability event was held at the park in September, to explain the project and respond to questions.

An April meeting of the Restoration Advisory Board for the Culebra FUDS in Puerto Rico was well-attended, following the reported injury of a young tourist by munitions she found and carried from Flamenco Beach into town. A new public information campaign was developed to further promote the 3R safety message: If suspected munitions are encountered, Recognize that they may be dangerous, Retreat without moving or touching the munitions, and Report to local law enforcement.   

Final Decision Documents were signed for three of four Munitions Response Sites (MRS) at the former Pinecastle Jeep Range in Orlando, which the district has been remediating since 2008. The signed Decision Documents represent the approval of Corps headquarters of the final recommended alternatives for each of the three areas of the site. Remedial work was completed this year at Odyssey Middle School and in two nearby residential areas, and a final report is in development and will be shared with the community when completed. The Decision Document for the fourth and final MRS is pending headquarters review and approval.

Public meetings were held in June to present the Proposed Plans for Brooksville Turret Gunnery Range and Bushnell Army Airfield.

Debris removal took place at the Fort Pierce Naval Amphibious Training Base project at Vero Beach, Fla. Contractor crews worked offshore to search for and remove underwater objects known as horned scullies. Horned scullies are obstacles, made of steel beams welded together and placed in concrete,  that were used by the military for the purpose of damaging landing craft.

Jacksonville District’s recommendation for a Time Critical Removal Action for the pyridine burn area at the former Lee Field Naval Air Station FUDS was approved by headquarters and a contract will be awarded upon receipt of funding.

It has been a very busy, productive year for the Military-IIS Branch, an integral component of Jacksonville District’s mission.