KBR (formerly the M.W. Kellogg Company and Brown & Root, Inc.) is the 4th largest American construction firm today (listed by Engineering News Record) and is a subsidiary firm of Halliburton, well known for its former CEO, now U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. KBR makes the news regularly under criticism of the non-competitive sole-source contracts awarded to it by the U.S. government for construction work in Iraq.
As pointed out by James M. Carter in his online article "The Merchants of Blood: War Profiteering from Vietnam to Iraq", the precurser to KBR is the American construction joint-venture RMK-BRJ, formed to perform construction under a cost-plus-award-fee contract for the U.S. Navy in Vietnam in the 60s and early 70s. Brown & Root, Inc., now part of KBR, was also a key part of RMK-BRJ, also known as The Vietnam Builders (although I never heard that term during the year I worked alongside RMK-BRJ people in 1972). The other members of RMK-BRJ were also the largest American construction companies at the time, including Raymond International, Morrison-Knudsen, and J.A. Jones Construction. According to Carter,
"In the process, Vietnam Builders employed 8,600 Americans and over 51,000 Vietnamese. They built six ports with 29 deep-draft berths, six naval bases, eight jet airstrips 10,000 feet in length, twelve airfields, just under twenty hospitals, fourteen million square feet of covered storage, and twenty base camps including housing for 450,000 servicemen and family. In short, they put on the ground in southern Vietnam nearly $2 billion in construction of various kinds of facilities and infrastructure. Military commanders called it the "construction miracle of the decade." (Jones Construction Centennial)."
By my calculation using the ENR Building Cost Index, $2 billion in 1970 terms for construction in Vietnam is the equivalent of $15 billion in American construction dollars today.
As a naval officer assigned to the U.S. Navy Officer in Charge of Construction, Republic of Vietnam (OICC-RVN) from 1971 and 1972, I was privileged to attend the final ceremony in 1972 when Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker turned over the plant, equipment, and material of RMK-BRJ to the Vietnamese government.
While most of the Navy OICC organization was devoted to administering the RMK-BRJ contract, I was fortunate to be assigned to work with Vietnamese construction contractors to build civil projects up and down southern Việt Nam. But for portions of time, I occupied home and office space in RMK-BRJ construction camps, as well as their home office in downtown Sài Gòn (now occupied by the Diamond Plaza Department Store and office tower) at the corner of Đại Lộ (Avenue) Lê Duẩn and Đường (Street) Phạm Ngọc Thạch in District 1 (Sài Gòn) of Hồ Chí Minh City. This is what the headquarters looked like in 1972:
and this is what it looks like today:
This is a block south of the Consulate General of the U.S. (former site of the U.S. Embassy).