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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Building Strong ®

579th Engineer Detachment (FEST-M) Global Support

There’s no place like home for USACE engineer

by Mark Abueg
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (July 13, 2010) – He must
have clicked his heels only twice because he didn’t quite make it
back to his home country of Pakistan. But he did manage his way to
the neighboring nation of Afghanistan.

M. Javed Ahmed, highway engineer for the 579th Engineer

Detachment (Forward Engineer Support Team - Main), is stationed at
Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, where he designs roads and
buildings for the people of Afghanistan. Yesterday afternoon, he took
the time to improve his teammates’ understanding of the country they
M. Javed Ahmed, highway engineer with the 579th Engineer Detachment
are trying to aid. (FEST-M), explains Afghanistan’s geographical terrain during a culture and
history class he gave to his fellow teammates. Originally from Pakistan,
Ahmed provided his knowledge of the region, so his team could better
“I am from this area, but I was born in Pakistan,” he said. “Born and understand their area of operation. (Photo by Mark Abueg, 579th Engineer
raised there, so I know the history, culture and the people of Detachment (FEST-M) PAO)
Afghanistan. Many things common and many things different.”

Ahmed explained that Pakistan and Afghanistan’s history is what weaves them so closely together, and it also gives
him a better understanding of the country where he is now serving a year-long deployment.

“I have studied Afghanistan’s history since my school years,” he said. “As a Pakistani, I share my history with the
Afghani people.”

Born in a small Pakistan agriculture community, Ahmed comes from a humble background that not many people can
say they have experienced.

“I got my early education in the village school, and it was literally under the trees,” he explained. “There was a two-
room school, five classes taught, and one teacher teaching these five classes.”

After finishing grammar and middle school, he was selected for a high school-level program that prepared him to
become a military officer.

“That actually helped me a lot in helping me advance in my career,” he said. “It served as a springboard in my
education and career.”

Though Ahmed had a different calling. He opted not to join the military, and instead pursued a career towards

“I was really into chemistry and the sciences,” he said. “I really enjoyed designing things.”

He worked as a chemical engineer in Pakistan before moving to Canada, where he received a master’s degree in
chemical engineering.

“Then I moved to USA, and then I got my degree in civil engineering and here I am,” he continued.


Camp Phoenix and Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan
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Here he is now. Here being Afghanistan. A place he knows all

too well. A land he grew up so close to and eventually moved
far away from. Now Ahmed is doing his part to help stabilize
Afghanistan in every way he knows possible.

“I am part of this team and I can contribute a lot,” he said.

Ahmed’s skills will shine through when the time comes for him
and his teammates to go outside of the wire. Out into the
unknown where danger lurks from every corner of the very
roads and buildings he’s designing.
Mike Quinn, Danny McLaughlin, and Nick Lopez, left to right, engineers with the 579th He understands the bad that goes with him being in
Engineer Detachment (FEST-M), learn more about the history of Afghanistan during a
course given by one of their fellow engineers, who is from Pakistan. (Photo by Mark Afghanistan. He also understands the good that will occur by
Abueg, 579th Engineer Detachment (FEST-M) PAO) him also being here.

“So it will be my experience that will be of great help to the team,” Ahmed said. “I’ll help them to understand the
people, understand the culture, how to communicate with them and it will actually help us in our mission. I really feel
proud of that. I have some knowledge of the history, culture, and people of the area.”

For now Ahmed will have to do without being in the comforts of his native home. Though there are some aspects
that still remind him of his days as a child running through his village.

“Afghanistan reminds me of the weather when I was in Pakistan,” he said. “Same kind of heat. Same kind of hot
weather. So I feel like I am back home.”


Camp Phoenix and Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan