Quarterman explains mission
Graylan Quarterman, home from his Kosovo mission for the holidays, wanted to explain what he is doing in Kosovo and share the insight he’s gained from his experience.
“I think the U.S. presence in Kosovo is a very important mission for peace around the world,” Quarterman said, drawing a parallel from Kosovo to the situation in Iraq.
“What’s going on in Kosovo right now will happen in Iraq at the end of the physical military mission.”
Kosovo, now free from Serbian oppression that began in 1999, has been trying to redefine itself.
Serbs once enslaved Albanians in Kosovo with the goal of ethnic cleansing. The United Nations took control and U.S. forces helped to push the Serbs out of the country.
As a realty contracting officer with the Army Corps of Engineers, Quarterman manages 274 leases from the land the U.S. occupies in Kosovo. Quarterman also oversees 15 leases in Romania.
When nationals file claims with the United States, Quarterman is responsible for verifying the occupation of a plot of land, determining its appraised value and authorizing correct payment.
“The country is not a relatively regular tourist site,” he said. “They don’t have the infrastructure. They’re trying to develop themselves.”
Quarterman said defense secretary Robert Gates has indicated an American presence will remain in Kosovo until at least 2011.
Quarterman said he will not be extending his term.
However, part of Quarterman’s job also involves organizing lease disposal when the war ends.
Aovernment has to be established and you will need military presence of the forces who help to get the government under control,” he said.
Quarterman said his tour has been an eye-opener in terms of dealing with foreign nations and negotiating contracts to help all parties involved.
“It’s given me a great appreciation for the United States and our organization skills in dealing with society,” Quarterman said.
Quarterman began his mission in Kosovo, which pertains to his civilian job with the Army Corps of Engineers, last August.
“It puzzles me on why,” Quarterman said. “Had I realized that the leave of absence would create the focus that it has, I would have taken a different action early on.”
However, Quarterman said he’s certain a decision regarding his leave of absence will be handed down Tuesday during the monthly Liberty County Board of Commissioners meeting.
“(I) feel confident that some closure will be brought to this position on Tuesday,” he said.
In Quarterman’s opinion, the responsibility to come to a conclusion lies with the commissioners.
“We (LCDA) are supporters of the commissioners,” he said.
The five-month delay on whether to approve or deny the request came down to the commissioners asking for input from the LCDA.
“Mr. Graylan Quarterman is a valued member of the LCDA team whose continued presence is appreciated under such terms and conditions as the Liberty County Commission deems appropriate,” read a letter submitted to the commissioners by the LCDA.
While the commission may appear to be indecisive, commission Chairman John McIver said the panel’s members just have different views on what action to take.
“It really wasn’t a difficult decision to make,” McIver, also a LCDA member, said. “When you have no precise policy or procedure in regulation to the request, it’s all open there, really.”
During their last discussion, commissioners questioned Quarterman’s acceptance of an overseas job.
Quarterman said he wants to put his service in perspective.
“We have a volunteer Army now,” he said. “Everybody volunteers.”
Quarterman said he has made an effort to keep in touch with authority members since he left for Kosovo and has not seen how the LCDA board has ceased to function or progress.
“I think it’s time now that the development authority focus on the mission, 100 percent, versus on one position,” Quarterman said. “I do not, in any way, want to put any more negative twist on this that’s already been made.”
McIver said the entire process has made him think the authority will soon need to evaluate its current policy regarding absences.
“We will have to address this in the future immediately so if this comes up again we’ll be able to address it,” McIver said.