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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tulsa District News

Employee Spotlight: Maj. Dan Young

Published Aug. 18, 2014
Major Daniel R. Young is the Deputy Commander of the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Major Daniel R. Young is the Deputy Commander of the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Major Daniel Young recently took over as Deputy Commander of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Tulsa District. Young is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. While at West Point, he studied Civil Engineering. He holds a Master of Science in Engineering Management from Missouri University of Science and Technology. An Olmsted Scholar, he attended the American University in Cairo, where he earned a Master of Arts in Middle East Studies. Young and his family were in Egypt as the revolution that came to be known as the “Arab Spring” swept through Egypt, resulting in political upheaval in several Arab nations. Young and his wife, Lori, met in high school in Edmond, Okla. They both graduated from Edmond Memorial High School, and Lori is a graduate of Oklahoma State University. The couple has three daughters, one age nine, and twins age seven.

Where did you go to college?

I attended West Point. Shortly after I graduated from high school, I left for West Point, and my wife went to Oklahoma State. We were dating at the end of high school and were married shortly after college graduation.

Did you always want to be an engineer?

I think I had a natural inclination to engineering because I enjoyed math and science. My father is a civil engineer who works for the Indian Health Service specializing in water and wastewater. We moved around the Southwest a fair amount. I spent most of my time as a kid living in New Mexico and Oklahoma.

Why did you want to attend a service academy instead of going to a state or private university?

There are a couple of reasons. I wanted to be in the military since I was young. I participated in Junior ROTC in high school. I wanted a quality education and my parents told me to find a way to pay for college. I’m sure they would have helped me, but I took the attitude that it’s my education, and I needed to find a way to pay for it. I wanted to go to West Point because I felt it was a challenge, and something that would be exciting.

I didn’t know at the time how long I would stay in the Army. After I graduated West Point, I thought, maybe I’ll do my five years and then get out, but I really enjoyed my first assignment, and so I stayed in.

Where was your first assignment?

My first assignment was to Fort Bragg, N.C. with the 307th Engineer Battalion. I really enjoyed being a platoon leader and a company XO. My first battalion commander was Brig. Gen. (ret) Thomas Kula (former Southwestern Division Commander). I enjoyed the camaraderie in the unit. It was a fun and exciting time. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and so my wife and I decided, ‘Let’s stay around for awhile.’

What functional specialties or capabilities does an engineer battalion bring to the table?

The Army has a variety of engineer battalion types. For tactical battalions in general, you’ll have the combat engineers, the sappers who do explosives, demolition and breaching working side by side with infantry and armor units. There are two other big functions you need to have in an engineering unit, and that is a route clearance capability, due to the improvised explosive device threats, and then some amount of construction capability. There’s almost always a need for that.

Which of your previous assignments do you feel have taught you the most about leadership and management?

There have been a few, but one inparticular was being a company commander with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. I commanded a 140-man company. It was a mixed company, predominately an engineer company but at the time the 173rd was under an old organizational structure, so what I had was an engineer company with other functions added. There was an air defense platoon, some of the military intelligence assets for the brigade, and the PAO personnel. It was a fairly large and diverse company. We deployed to Afghanistan and replaced a company that was much smaller than mine, so we brought more capabilities. The brigade commander at the time asked, “What can we do? How are we going to use your company in Afghanistan?” I had a platoon of light engineer equipment. It had light air droppable dozers, and other equipment designed for rapid runway repair, and I had a lot of expertise in my NCOs and officers who were engineers and experienced equipment operators.

The focus then was building roads in Afghanistan. There was a road project that the governor in Zabul Province really wanted complete and one of the battalions in our brigade wanted help in building this road. So we came up with the idea that would help the local economy and provide jobs. I could hire local dozer operators, dump truck drivers, and bucket loaders, in addition to using all of my equipment on the road for construction. Our equipment was smaller, it could push as much, but if I had one of my dozers working and then I had two or three locals with dozers following, doing just what my soldier is doing then we could amplify the amount of work we could do. So, we just took a platoon of small equipment and outfitted it with enough local augmentation that we had an engineering company size of heavy equipment. We were able to build a 50 km combat road through a rough part of Zabul Province. It was a demanding but exciting job.

Do you feel that you built some good relationships?

There was a period for a couple months where every time we left the base we would have an IED event or attack. I spent a lot of time developing relationships with the district leaders and local elders for the approximately 40 villages in our district. After our project was fully up and running, we got to the point where we became more valuable to the local Afghans because of the jobs we were creating, the road we were providing, the security and relationships we were building that the IEDs disappeared. We became more valuable to the local Afghans than the Taliban.

Do you have specific goals for your time here as far as how you want to accomplish your piece of the mission?

I’m still learning about the district and developing my goals. I really appreciate all that Lt. Col. Nestor did for our transition and his efforts to set me up for success. I think Lt. Col. Nestor did an excellent job of organizing, and I know he was very appreciated in the district. My immediate goal is to get up to speed as quickly as possible and continue the things that he did well. A longer term goal is to understand the system of the Corps of Engineers. My role as a deputy needs to be getting my hands on all of the inner workings so the commander doesn’t have to worry about them, so that he can do his job as commander and he doesn’t have to worry about how we’re functioning internally as a district, freeing him up to be the commander.

How do you feel about coming back to Oklahoma?

I’m excited about being back. This is our first assignment in Oklahoma after being gone for a long time. The absolute best thing about Oklahoma is its people. That explains why Tulsa is a great place to work, because it’s full of Oklahomans.