United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is a U.S. federal
agency under the Department of Defense and a major Army command made
up of some 37,000 civilian and military personnel, making it one of
the world's largest public engineering, design, and construction
management agencies. Although generally associated with dams, canals
and flood protection in the United States, USACE is involved in a wide
range of public works throughout the world. The Corps of Engineers
provides outdoor recreation opportunities to the public, and provides
24% of U.S. hydropower capacity.
The corps' mission is to "Deliver vital public and military
engineering services; partnering in peace and war to strengthen our
Nation's security, energize the economy and reduce risks from
Their most visible missions include:
Planning, designing, building, and operating locks and dams. Other
civil engineering projects include flood control, beach nourishment,
and dredging for waterway navigation.
Design and construction of flood protection systems through various
Design and construction management of military facilities for the
Army, Air Force, Army Reserve and Air Force Reserve and other Defense
and Federal agencies.
Environmental regulation and ecosystem restoration.
1.1 Early history
1.2 Formerly separate units
1.3 Civil War
1.4 20th century
1.5 Notable dates and projects
2.2 Divisions and districts
2.3 The Engineer Regiment
2.4 Other USACE organizations
2.5 Directly reporting military units
3 Mission areas
3.2 Homeland security
3.4 Water resources
4 Operational facts and figures
5 Environmental protection and regulatory program
8.1 Civil works
8.2 Military construction
8.3 Greenhouse whistleblower suit
9 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
Plan of the military academy at West Point, New York
The history of
United States Army Corps of Engineers can be traced
back to 16 June 1775, when the
Continental Congress organized an army
with a chief engineer and two assistants. Colonel Richard Gridley
became General George Washington's first chief engineer. One of his
first tasks was to build fortifications near
Boston at Bunker Hill.
Continental Congress recognized the need for engineers trained in
military fortifications and asked the government of King Louis XVI of
France for assistance. Many of the early engineers in the Continental
Army were former French officers. Louis Lebègue Duportail, a
lieutenant colonel in the French Royal Corps of Engineers, was
secretly sent to America in March 1777 to serve in Washington's
Continental Army. In July 1777 he was appointed colonel and commander
of all engineers in the Continental Army, and in November 17, 1777, he
was promoted to brigadier general. When the Continental Congress
created a separate Corps of Engineers in May 1779 Duportail was
designated as its commander. In late 1781 he directed the construction
of the allied U.S.-French siege works at the Battle of Yorktown.
The Corps of Engineers, as it is known today, came into existence on
16 March 1802, when President
Thomas Jefferson signed the Military
Peace Establishment Act whose aim was to "organize and establish a
Corps of Engineers ... that the said Corps ... shall be stationed at
West Point in the State of New York and shall constitute a military
academy." Until 1866, the superintendent of the
United States Military
Academy was always an officer of engineer.
General Survey Act of 1824 authorized the use of Army engineers to
survey road and canal routes. That same year, Congress passed an
"Act to Improve the
Navigation of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers" and
to remove sand bars on the Ohio and "planters, sawyers, or snags"
(trees fixed in the riverbed) on the Mississippi, for which the Corps
of Engineers was the responsible agency.
Formerly separate units
See also: Corps of Topographical Engineers
Separately authorized on 4 July 1838, the U.S. Army Corps of
Topographical Engineers consisted only of officers and was used for
mapping and the design and construction of federal civil works and
other coastal fortifications and navigational routes. It was merged
with the Corps of Engineers on 31 March 1863, at which point the Corps
of Engineers also assumed the Lakes Survey District mission for the
In 1841, Congress created the Lake Survey. The survey, based in
Detroit, Mich., was charged with conducting a hydrographical survey of
the Northern and Northwestern Lakes and preparing and publishing
nautical charts and other navigation aids. The Lake Survey published
its first charts in 1852.
In the mid-19th century, Corps of Engineers' officers ran Lighthouse
Districts in tandem with U.S. Naval officers.
Pontoon bridge across the James River, Virginia, 1864
The Army Corps of Engineers played a significant role in the American
Civil War. Many of the men who would serve in the top leadership in
this institution were West Point graduates who rose to military fame
and power during the Civil War. Some of these men were Union Generals
George McClellan, Henry Halleck, George Meade, and Confederate
generals Robert E. Lee, Joseph Johnston, and P.G.T. Beauregard. The
versatility of officers in the Army Corps of Engineers contributed to
the success of numerous missions throughout the Civil War. They were
responsible for building pontoon and railroad bridges, forts and
batteries, the destruction of enemy supply lines, and the construction
of roads. The Union forces were not the only ones to employ the use
of engineers throughout the war, and on 6 March 1861, once the South
had seceded from the Union, among the different acts passed at the
time, a provision was included that called for the creation of a
Confederate Corps of Engineers.
The progression of the war demonstrated the South's disadvantage in
engineering expertise; of the initial 65 cadets who resigned from West
Point to accept positions with the Confederate Army, only seven were
placed in the Corps of Engineers. To overcome this obstacle, the
Confederate Congress passed legislation that gave a company of
engineers to every division in the field; by 1865, they actually had
more engineer officers serving in the field of action than the Union
Army. The Army Corps of Engineers served as a main function in
making the war effort logistically feasible. One of the main projects
for the Army Corps of Engineers was constructing railroads and
bridges, which Union forces took advantage of because railroads and
bridges provided access to resources and industry. One area where the
Confederate engineers were able to outperform the
Union Army was in
the ability to build fortifications that were used both offensively
and defensively along with trenches that made them harder to
penetrate. This method of building trenches was known as the zigzag
A bulldozer operated by Sgt. C. G. McCutcheon of the 1304th Engineer
Construction Battalion on the Ledo Road, Burma, 1944
From the beginning, many politicians wanted the Corps of Engineers to
contribute to both military construction and works of a civil nature.
Assigned the military construction mission on 1 December 1941 after
the Quartermaster Department struggled with the expanding mission,
the Corps built facilities at home and abroad to support the U.S. Army
and Air Force. During World War II the mission grew to more than
27,000 military and industrial projects in a $15.3 billion
mobilization program. Included were aircraft, tank assembly, and
ammunition plants, camps for 5.3 million soldiers, depots, ports,
and hospitals, as well as the Manhattan Project, and the Pentagon.
In civilian projects, the Corps of Engineers became the lead federal
flood control agency and significantly expanded its civil works
activities, becoming among other things, a major provider of
hydroelectric energy and the country's leading provider of recreation;
its role in responding to natural disasters also grew dramatically. In
the late 1960s, the agency became a leading environmental preservation
and restoration agency.
In 1944, specially trained army combat engineers were assigned to blow
up underwater obstacles and clear defended ports during the invasion
of Normandy. During World War II, the Army Corps of Engineers
European Theater of Operations
European Theater of Operations was responsible for building
numerous bridges, including the first and longest floating tactical
bridge across the Rhine at Remagen, and building or maintaining roads
vital to the Allied advance across Europe into the heart of Germany.
In the Pacific theater, the Pioneer troops were formed, a
hand-selected unit of volunteer Army combat engineers trained in
jungle warfare, knife fighting, and unarmed jujitsu (hand-to-hand
combat) techniques. Working in camouflage, the Pioneers cleared
jungle and prepared routes of advance and established bridgeheads for
the infantry as well as demolishing enemy installations.
Five commanding generals (chiefs of staff after the 1903
reorganization) of the
United States Army held engineer commissions
early in their careers. All transferred to other branches before
rising to the top. They were Alexander Macomb, George B. McClellan,
Henry W. Halleck, Douglas MacArthur, and Maxwell D. Taylor.
Notable dates and projects
Gatun Lock construction, Panama Canal, 12 March 1912
An aerial view of the Kennedy Space Center
General Survey Act of 1824 authorized use of army engineers to
survey roads and canals. The next month, an act to improve navigation
on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers initiated the Corps of Engineers'
permanent civil works construction mission. Although the 1824 act to
improve the Mississippi and Ohio rivers is often called the first
rivers and harbors legislation, the act passed in 1826 was the first
to combine authorizations for both surveys and projects, thereby
establishing a pattern that continues to the present day.
Survey and construction of the
National Road until Federal funds were
The 555 ft 5 1⁄8 in (169.29 m) tall Washington
Monument, completed under the direction and command of Lieutenant
Colonel Thomas Lincoln Casey, 1884
Panama Canal, completed under supervision of Army Engineer officers,
Flood Control Act of 1936 made flood control a federal policy and
officially recognized the Corps of Engineers as the major federal
flood control agency
Bonneville Dam, completed in 1937
Flood Control Act of 1941, which channelized the
Los Angeles River
Los Angeles River and
parts of the Santa Ana River
USACE took over all real estate acquisition, construction, and
maintenance for army facilities, 1941
Manhattan Project (1942–1946)
Planning and construction of The Pentagon, completed in 1943 just 16
months after groundbreaking
Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, first authorized by
congress in 1948
USACE began construction support for
NASA leading to major activities
Manned Spacecraft Center
Manned Spacecraft Center and Kennedy Space Center, 1961
King Khalid Military City
King Khalid Military City 1973–1987.
Water Resources Development Act of 1986 (WRDA 86) brought major
change in financing by requiring non federal contributions toward most
federal water resource projects
Cross Florida Barge Canal
Occasional civil disasters, including the Great Mississippi Flood of
1927, resulted in greater responsibilities for the Corps of Engineers.
The aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina in
New Orleans provides another
example of this.
Chief of Engineers
Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers works under the civilian oversight of the Assistant
Secretary of the Army (Civil Works). Three deputy commanding generals
report to the chief of engineers, who have the following titles:
Deputy Commanding General, Deputy Commanding General for Civil and
Emergency Operation, and Deputy Commanding General for Military and
International Operations. The Corps of Engineers headquarters is
located in Washington, D.C. The headquarters staff is responsible for
Corps of Engineers policy and plans the future direction of all other
USACE organizations. It comprises the executive office and 17 staff
principals. USACE has two directors who head up Military Programs and
Civil Works, Director of Military Programs and Director of Civil
Divisions and districts
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is organized geographically into
eight permanent divisions, one provisional division, one provisional
district, and one research command reporting directly to the HQ.
Within each division, there are several districts. Districts are
defined by watershed boundaries for civil works projects and by
political boundaries for military projects.
Map of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Engineer divisions and
Great Lakes and Ohio River Division (LRD), located in Cincinnati.
Reaches from the St Lawrence Seaway, across the Great Lakes, down the
Ohio River Valley
Ohio River Valley to the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. Covers
355,300 square miles (920,000 km2), parts of 17 states. Serves 56
million people. Its seven districts are located in Buffalo, Chicago,
Detroit, Louisville, Nashville, Pittsburgh, and Huntington, West
Virginia. The division commander serves on two national and
international decision-making bodies: co-chair of the Lake Superior,
Niagara, and Ontario/
St Lawrence Seaway
St Lawrence Seaway boards of control; and the
Mississippi River Commission.
Mississippi Valley Division
Mississippi Valley Division (MVD), located in Vicksburg,
Mississippi. Reaches from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Covers
370,000 square miles (960,000 km2), and portions of 12 states
bordering the Mississippi River. Serves 28 million people. Its six
districts are located in St. Paul, Minnesota, Rock Island, Illinois,
St. Louis, Memphis, Vicksburg, and New Orleans. MVD serves as
headquarters for the
Mississippi River Commission.
North Atlantic Division
North Atlantic Division (NAD), headquartered at
Fort Hamilton in
Brooklyn, New York. Reaches from
Maine to Virginia, including the
District of Columbia, with an overseas mission to provide engineering,
construction, and project management services to the U.S. European
Command and U.S. Africa Command. Serves 62 million people. Its six
districts are located in New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore,
Norfolk, Concord, Massachusetts, and Wiesbaden, Germany. NAD has the
Superfund program in USACE with 60% of the funding. NAD's
Europe District has done work in dozens of countries and currently has
offices in Germany, Belgium, Italy, Turkey, Georgia, Romania,
Bulgaria, Israel, Spain, and soon Botswana.
Northwestern Division (NWD), located in Portland, Oregon. Reaches
from Canada to California, and from the Pacific Ocean to Missouri.
Covers nearly 1,000,000 square miles (2,600,000 km2) in all or
parts of 14 states. Its five districts are located in Omaha, Portland,
Kansas City, and Walla Walla. NWD has 35% of the total Corps
of Engineers' water storage capacity and 75% of the total
Pacific Ocean Division
Pacific Ocean Division (POD), located at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
Reaches across 12 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean from the
Arctic Circle to
American Samoa below the equator and across the
International Date Line, and into Asia. includes the territories of
American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana
Islands as well as the Freely Associated States including the Republic
Federated States of Micronesia
Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the
Marshall Islands. Its four districts are located in Japan; Seoul,
South Korea; Anchorage, Alaska; and Honolulu. Unlike other military
work, POD designs and builds for all of the military services —
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines — in Japan, Korea, and Kwajalein
South Atlantic Division
South Atlantic Division (SAD), located in Atlanta. Reaches from
North Carolina to
Alabama as well as the Caribbean, and Central and
South America. Covers all or parts of six states. Its five districts
are located in Wilmington, North Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina,
Savannah, Jacksonville, and Mobile. One-third of the stateside Army
and one-fifth of the stateside Air Force are located within the
division boundaries. The largest single environmental restoration
project in the world — the Everglades Restoration — is
managed by SAD.
South Pacific Division
South Pacific Division (SPD), located in San Francisco. Reaches
from California to
Colorado and New Mexico. Covers all or parts of
seven states. Its four districts are located in Albuquerque, Los
Angeles, Sacramento, and San Francisco. Its region is host to 18 of
the 25 fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the nation.
Southwestern Division (SWD), located in Dallas. Reaches from
Mexico to Kansas. Covers all or part of seven states. Its four
districts are located in Little Rock, Tulsa, Galveston, and Fort
Worth. SWD's recreation areas are the most visited in USACE with more
than 11,400 miles (18,300 km) of shoreline and 1,172 recreation
Transatlantic Division (TAD), located in Winchester, Virginia.
Supports Federal programs and policies overseas. Consists of the Gulf
Region District, the
Afghanistan Engineer District South, the
Afghanistan Engineer District North, the Middle East District, the
USACE Deployment Center and the TAD G2 Intelligence Fusion Center. TAD
oversees thousands of projects overseas. TAD overseas locations are
staffed primarily by civilian volunteers from throughout USACE.
The Corps of Engineers built much of the original Ring Road in the
early 1960s and returned in 2002. Supports the full spectrum of
regional support, including the Afghan National Security Forces, U.S.
and Coalition Forces, Counter Narcotics and Border Management,
Strategic Reconstruction support to USAID, and the Commander's
Emergency Response Program.
The Engineer Regiment
Military engineering of the United States
U.S. Army Engineer units outside of USACE Districts and not listed
below fall under the Engineer Regiment of the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers. Army engineers include both combat engineers and support
engineers more focused on construction and sustainment. The vast
majority of military personnel in the
United States Army Corps of
Engineers serve in this Engineer Regiment. The Engineer Regiment is
headquartered at Fort Leonard Wood, MO and is commanded by the
Engineer Commandant, currently a position filled by an Army Brigadier
General from the Engineer Branch.
The Engineer Regiment includes the
U.S. Army Engineer School
U.S. Army Engineer School (USAES)
which publishes its mission as: Generate the military engineer
capabilities the Army needs: training and certifying Soldiers with the
right knowledge, skills, and critical thinking; growing and educating
professional leaders; organizing and equipping units; establishing a
doctrinal framework for employing capabilities; and remaining an
adaptive institution in order to provide Commanders with the freedom
of action they need to successfully execute Unified Land Operations.
Other USACE organizations
There are several other organizations within the Corps of
Engineer Research and Development Center
Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) — the Corps of
Engineers research and development command. ERDC comprises seven
laboratories. (see research below)
U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center (CEHNC) — provides
engineering and technical services, program and project management,
construction management, and innovative contracting initiatives, for
programs that are national or broad in scope or not normally provided
by other Corps of Engineers elements
Finance Center, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (CEFC) — supports
the operating finance and accounting functions throughout the Corps of
Humphreys Engineer Center Support Activity (CEHEC) — provides
administrative and operational support for Headquarters, U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers and various field offices.
Army Geospatial Center
Army Geospatial Center (AGC) — provides geospatial
information, standards, systems, support, and services across the Army
and the Department of Defense.
Marine Design Center (CEMDC) — provides total project
management including planning, engineering, and shipbuilding contract
management in support of USACE, Army, and national water resource
projects in peacetime, and augments the military construction capacity
in time of national emergency or mobilization
Institute for Water Resources (IWR) — supports the Civil Works
Directorate and other Corps of Engineers commands by developing and
applying new planning evaluation methods, policies and data in
anticipation of changing water resources management conditions.
USACE Logistics Activity (ULA)- Provides logistics support to the
Corps of Engineers including supply, maintenance, readiness, materiel,
transportation, travel, aviation, facility management, integrated
logistics support, management controls, and strategic planning.
Infrastructure Services (CEEIS) — designs
information technology standards for the Corps, including automation,
communications, management, visual information, printing, records
management, and information assurance. CEEIS outsources the
maintenance of its IT services, forming the Army Corps of Engineers
Information Technology (ACE-IT). ACE-IT is made up of both civilian
government employees and contractors.
Deployable Tactical Operations System (DTOS) — provides mobile
command and control platforms in support of the quick ramp-up of
initial emergency response missions for the Corps. DTOS is a system
designed to respond to District, Division, National, and International
Until 2001 local Directorates of Engineering and Housing (DEH), being
constituents of the USACE, had been responsible for the housing,
infrastructure and related tasks as environmental protection, garbage
removal and special fire departments or fire alarm coordination
centers in the garrisons of the U.S. Army abroad as in Europe (e.g.
Germany, as in Berlin, Wiesbaden, Karlsruhe etc.) Subsequently, a
similar structure called DPWs (Directorates of Public Works),
subordinate to the
United States Army Installation Management Command,
assumed the tasks formerly done by the DEHs.
Directly reporting military units
249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power) — generates and
distributes prime electrical power in support of fighting wars,
disaster relief, stability and support operations as well as provides
advice and technical assistance in all aspects of electrical power and
911th Engineer Company — (formerly the MDW Engineer Company)
provides specialized technical search and rescue support for the
Washington, D.C. metropolitan area; it is also a vital support member
of the Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region, which is
charged with the homeland security of the
United States capital
412th Theater Engineer Command, U.S. Army Reserve, located in
416th Theater Engineer Command, U.S. Army Reserve, located in Darien,
See also: Sapper, Combat engineer, and Military engineering
20th Engineer Brigade soldiers construct a bridge on the Euphrates
USACE provides support directly and indirectly to the warfighting
effort. They build and help maintain much of the infrastructure
that the Army and the Air Force use to train, house, and deploy
troops. USACE built and maintained navigation systems and ports
provide the means to deploy vital equipment and other material. Corps
of Engineers Research and Development (R&D) facilities help
develop new methods and measures for deployment, force protection,
terrain analysis, mapping, and other support.
USACE directly supports the military in the battle zone, making
expertise available to commanders to help solve or avoid engineering
(and other) problems. Forward Engineer Support Teams, FEST-A's or
FEST-M's, may accompany combat engineers to provide immediate support,
or to reach electronically into the rest of USACE for the necessary
expertise. A FEST-A team is an eight-person detachment; a FEST-M is
approximately 36. These teams are designed to provide immediate
technical-engineering support to the warfighter or in a disaster area.
Corps of Engineers' professionals use the knowledge and skills honed
on both military and civil projects to support the U.S. and local
communities in the areas of real estate, contracting, mapping,
construction, logistics, engineering, and management experience. This
work currently includes support for rebuilding Iraq, establishing
Afghanistan infrastructure, and supporting international and
In addition, the work of almost 26,000 civilians on civil-works
programs throughout USACE provide a training ground for similar
capabilities worldwide. USACE civilians volunteer for assignments
worldwide. For example, hydropower experts have helped repair,
renovate, and run hydropower dams in
Iraq in an effort to help get
Iraqis to become self-sustaining.
USACE supports the United States'
Department of Homeland Security
Department of Homeland Security and
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through its security
planning, force protection, research and development, disaster
preparedness efforts, and quick response to emergencies and
The CoE conducts its emergency response activities under two basic
authorities — the Flood Control and Coastal Emergency Act
(Pub.L. 84–99), and the Stafford
Disaster Relief and Emergency
Assistance Act (Pub.L. 93–288). In a typical year, the Corps of
Engineers responds to more than 30 Presidential disaster declarations,
plus numerous state and local emergencies. Emergency responses usually
involve cooperation with other military elements and Federal agencies
in support of State and local efforts.
Soldiers assembling sections of a HESCO collapsible barrier device in
Fargo, North Dakota
Work comprises engineering and management support to military
installations, global real estate support, civil works support
(including risk and priorities), operations and maintenance of Federal
navigation and flood control projects, and monitoring of dams and
More than 67 percent of the goods consumed by Americans and more than
half of the nation's oil imports are processed through deepwater ports
maintained by the Corps of Engineers, which maintains more than 12,000
miles (19,000 km) of commercially navigable channels across the
In both its Civil Works mission and Military Construction program, the
Corps of Engineers is responsible for billions of dollars of the
nation's infrastructure. For example, USACE maintains direct control
of 609 dams, maintains or operates 257 navigation locks, and operates
75 hydroelectric facilities generating 24% of the nation's hydropower
and three percent of its total electricity. USACE inspects over 2,000
Federal and non-Federal levees every two years.
Four billion gallons of water per day are drawn from the Corps of
Engineers' 136 multi-use flood control projects comprising 9,800,000
acre feet (12.1 km3) of water storage, making it one of the
United States' largest water supply agencies.
The 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power), the only active duty unit
in USACE, generates and distributes prime electrical power in support
of warfighting, disaster relief, stability and support operations as
well as provides advice and technical assistance in all aspects of
electrical power and distribution systems. The battalion deployed in
support of recovery operations after
9/11 and was instrumental in
getting Wall Street back up and running within a week. The
battalion also deployed in support of post-Katrina operations.
All of this work represents a significant investment in the nation's
Removing a hazard to navigation on the Hudson River
The survey vessel Linthicum in a channel near Fort McHenry
Through its Civil Works program, USACE carries out a wide array of
projects that provide coastal protection, flood protection,
hydropower, navigable waters and ports, recreational opportunities,
and water supply. Work includes coastal protection and
restoration, including a new emphasis on a more holistic approach to
risk management. As part of this work, USACE is the number one
provider of outdoor recreation in the U.S., so there is a significant
emphasis on water safety.
Army involvement in works "of a civil nature," including water
resources, goes back almost to the origins of the U.S. Over the years,
as the nation's needs have changed, so have the Army's Civil Works
Major areas of emphasis include the following:
Navigation. Supporting navigation by maintaining and improving
channels was the Corps of Engineers' earliest Civil Works mission,
dating to Federal laws in 1824 authorizing the Corps to improve safety
on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and several ports. Today, the Corps
of Engineers maintains more than 12,000 miles (19,000 km) of
inland waterways and operates 235 locks. These waterways—a system of
rivers, lakes and coastal bays improved for commercial and
recreational transportation—carry about 1/6 of the nation's
inter-city freight, at a cost per ton-mile about 1/2 that of rail or
1/10 that of trucks. USACE also maintains 300 commercial harbors,
through which pass 2,000,000,000 short tons (1.8×109 metric tons) of
cargo a year, and more than 600 smaller harbors.
Flood Risk Management. The Engineers were first called upon to address
flood problems along the Mississippi river in the mid-19th century.
They began work on the
Mississippi River and Tributaries Flood Control
Project in 1928, and the
Flood Control Act of 1936 gave the Corps the
mission to provide flood protection to the entire country.
Recreation. The Corps of Engineers is the nation's largest provider of
outdoor recreation, operating more than 2,500 recreation areas at 463
projects (mostly lakes) and leasing an additional 1,800 sites to state
or local park and recreation authorities or private interests. USACE
hosts about 360 million visits a year at its lakes, beaches and other
areas, and estimates that 25 million Americans (one in ten) visit
a Corps' project at least once a year. Supporting visitors to these
recreation areas generates 600,000 jobs.
Hydroelectric Power. The Corps of Engineers was first authorized to
build hydroelectric plants in the 1920s, and today operates 75 power
plants, producing one fourth of the nation's hydro-electric power—or
three percent of its total electric energy. This makes USACE the fifth
largest electric supplier in the United States.
Shore Protection. With a large proportion of the U.S. population
living near our sea and lake shores, and an estimated 75% of U.S.
vacations being spent at the beach, there has been Federal
interest — and a Corps of Engineers mission — in
protecting these areas from hurricane and coastal storm damage.
Dam Safety. The Corps of Engineers develops engineering criteria for
safe dams, and conducts an active inspection program of its own
Water Supply. The Corps first got involved in water supply in the
1850s, when they built the Washington Aqueduct. Today USACE reservoirs
supply water to nearly 10 million people in 115 cities. In the drier
parts of the Nation, water from Corps reservoirs is also used for
Water Safety. The Corps of Engineers has taken an interest in
recreational water safety, with current initiatives for increasing the
use rate of life jackets and preventing the use of alcohol while
Martis Creek Wetland Project in California
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers environmental mission has two major
focus areas: restoration and stewardship. The Corps supports and
manages numerous environmental programs, that run the gamut from
cleaning up areas on former military installations contaminated by
hazardous waste or munitions to helping establish/reestablish wetlands
that helps endangered species survive. Some of these programs
Ecosystem Restoration, Formerly Used Defense Sites,
Environmental Stewardship, EPA Superfund, Abandoned Mine Lands,
Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program, Base Realignment and
Closure, 2005, and Regulatory.
This mission includes education as well as regulation and cleanup.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has an active environmental program
under both its Military and Civil Programs. The Civil Works
environmental mission that ensures all USACE projects, facilities and
associated lands meet environmental standards. The program has four
functions: compliance, restoration, prevention, and conservation. The
Corps also regulates all work in wetlands and waters of the United
The Military Programs Environmental Program manages design and
execution of a full range of cleanup and protection activities:
A member of the Radiation Safety Support Team, wearing a hazmat suit,
tests excavated soil.
cleans up sites contaminated with hazardous waste, radioactive waste,
complies with federal, state, and local environmental laws and
strives to minimize our use of hazardous materials
conserves our natural and cultural resources
The following are major areas of environmental emphasis:
Wetlands and Waterways Regulation and Permitting
Radioactive site cleanup through the Formerly Used Sites Remedial
Action Program (FUSRAP)
Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC)
Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS)
Support to EPA's
See also Environmental Enforcement below.
Operational facts and figures
Summary of facts and figures as of 2007, provided by the Corps of
One HQ, 8 Divisions, 2 Provisional Division, 45 Districts, 6 Centers,
one active-duty unit, 2 Engineer Reserve Command
At work in more than 90 countries
Supports 159 Army installations and 91 Air Force installations
Owns and operates 609 dams
Owns or operates 257 navigation lock chambers at 212 sites
Largest owner-operator of hydroelectric plants in the US. Owns and
operates 75 plants—24% of U.S. hydropower capacity (3% of the total
U.S. electric capacity)
Operates and maintains 12,000 miles (19,000 km) of commercial
inland navigation channels
Maintains 926 coast, Great Lakes, and inland harbors
Dredge 255,000,000 cubic yards (195,000,000 m3) annually for
construction or maintenance
Nation's number one provider of outdoor recreation with more than 368
million visits annually to 4,485 sites at 423 USACE projects (383
major lakes and reservoirs)
Total water supply storage capacity of 329,900,000 acre feet
Average annual damages prevented by Corps flood risk management
projects (1995–2004) of $21 billion (see "Civil works
Approximately 137 environmental protection projects under construction
(September 2006 figure)
Approximately 38,700 acres (157,000,000 m2) of wetlands restored,
created, enhanced, or preserved annually under the Corps' Regulatory
Approximately $4 billion in technical services to 70 non-DoD
Federal agencies annually
Completed (and continuing work on) thousands of infrastructure
Iraq at an estimated cost over $9 billion: school
projects (324,000 students), crude oil production 3 million barrels
per day (480,000 m3/d), potable water projects (3.9 million
people (goal 5.2 million)), fire stations, border posts,
prison/courthouse improvements, transportation/communication projects,
village road/expressways, railroad stations, postal facilities, and
aviation projects. More than 90 percent of the USACE construction
contracts have been awarded to Iraqi-owned businesses —
offering employment opportunities, boosting the economy, providing
jobs, and training, promoting stability and security where before
there was none. Consequently, the mission is a central part of the
U.S. exit strategy.
The Corps of Engineers has one of the strongest Small Business
Programs in the Army—Each year, approximately 33% of all contract
dollars are obligated with Small Businesses, Small Disadvantaged
Businesses, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses, Women
Owned Small Businesses, Historically Underutilized Business Zones, and
Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Jackie Robinson-Burnette
was named the Chief of the Corps' Small Business Program in May 2010.
The program is managed through an integrated network of over 60 Small
Business Advisors, 8 Division Commanders, 4 Center Directors, and 45
Environmental protection and regulatory program
The regulatory program is authorized to protect the nation's aquatic
resources. USACE personnel evaluate permit applications for
essentially all construction activities that occur in the nation's
waters, including wetlands. Two primary authorities granted to the
Army Corps of Engineers by Congress fall under Section 10 of the
Rivers and Harbors Act and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
Section 10 of the
Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (codified in Chapter
33, Section 403 of the
United States Code) gave the Corps authority
over navigable waters of the United States, defined as "those waters
that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide and/or are presently
being used, or have been used in the past, or may be susceptible for
use to transport interstate or foreign commerce." Section 10 covers
construction, excavation, or deposition of materials in, over, or
under such waters, or any work that would affect the course, location,
condition or capacity of those waters. Actions requiring section 10
permits include structures (e.g., piers, wharfs, breakwaters,
bulkheads, jetties, weirs, transmission lines) and work such as
dredging or disposal of dredged material, or excavation, filling or
other modifications to the navigable waters of the United States. The
Coast Guard also has responsibility for permitting the erection or
modification of bridges over navigable waters of the U.S.
Another of the major responsibilities of the Army Corps of Engineers
is administering the permitting program under Section 404 of the
Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, also known as the Clean
Water Act. The Secretary of the Army is authorized under this act to
issue permits for the discharge of dredged and fill material in waters
of the United States, including adjacent wetlands. The geographic
extent of waters of the
United States subject to section 404 permits
fall under a broader definition and include tributaries to navigable
waters and adjacent wetlands. The engineers must first determine if
the waters at the project site are jurisdictional and subject to the
requirements of the section 404 permitting program. Once jurisdiction
has been established, permit review and authorization follows a
sequence process that encourages avoidance of impacts, followed by
minimizing impacts and, finally, requiring mitigation for unavoidable
impacts to the aquatic environment. This sequence is described in the
section 404(b)(1) guidelines.
There are three types of permits issued by the Corps of Engineers:
Nationwide, Regional General, and Individual. 80% of the permits
issued are nationwide permits, which include 50 general type of
activities for minimal impacts to waters of the United States, as
published in the Federal Register. Nationwide permits are subject to a
reauthorization process every 5 years, with the most recent
reauthorization occurring in March, 2012. To gain authorization under
a nationwide permit, an applicant must comply with the terms and
conditions of the nationwide permit. Select nationwide permits require
preconstruction notification to the applicable corps district office
notifying them of his or her intent, type and amount of impact and
fill in waters, and a site map. Although the nationwide process is
fairly simple, corps approval must be obtained before commencing with
any work in waters of the United States. Regional general permits are
specific to each corps district office. Individual permits are
generally required for projects that impact greater than 0.5 acres
(2,000 m2) of waters of the United States. Individual permits are
required for activities that result in more than minimal impacts to
the aquatic environment.
The Corps of Engineers has two research organizations, the Engineer
Research and Development Center (ERDC) and the Army
ERDC provides science, technology, and expertise in engineering and
environmental sciences to support both military and civil/civilian
customers. ERDC research support includes:
Dam safety systems
Mapping and topography terrain analysis
Infrastructure design, construction, operations and maintenance
Cold-regions science and engineering
Coastal and hydraulic engineering, producing products such as HEC-RAS
Environmental quality, including toxic chemistry of bay mud and other
High performance computing and information technology
AGC coordinates, integrates, and synchronizes geospatial information
requirements and standards across the Army and provides direct
geospatial support and products to warfighters. See also Geospatial
Main article: Corps Castle
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gold castle branch insignia, worn by
The Corps of Engineers branch insignia, the Corps Castle, is believed
to have originated on an informal basis. In 1841, cadets at West Point
wore insignia of this type. In 1902, the Castle was formally adopted
by the Corps of Engineers as branch insignia. The "castle" is
actually the Pershing Barracks at the
United States Military Academy
in West Point, New York
A current tradition was established with the "Gold Castles" branch
insignia of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, West Point Class of
1903, who served in the Corps of Engineers early in his career and had
received the two pins as a graduation gift of his family. In 1945,
near the conclusion of World War II, General MacArthur gave his
personal pins to his Chief Engineer, General Leif J. Sverdrup. On 2
May 1975, upon the 200th anniversary of the Corps of Engineers,
retired General Sverdrup, who had civil engineering projects including
the landmark 17-mile (27 km)-long
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to
his credit, presented the
Gold Castles to then-Chief of Engineers
Lieutenant General William C. Gribble, Jr., who had also served under
General MacArthur in the Pacific. General Gribble then announced a
tradition of passing the insignia along to future Chiefs of Engineers,
and it has been done so since.
Main article: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works controversies
Secretary of the Army
Francis J. Harvey
Francis J. Harvey (r) discusses U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers operations in
New Orleans with Brigadier General Robert
Crear, commander, Mississippi Valley Division, USACE in New Orleans,
Some of the Corps of Engineers' civil works projects have been
characterized in the press as being pork barrel or boondoggles such as
New Madrid Floodway Project
New Madrid Floodway Project and the
New Orleans flood
protection. Projects have allegedly been justified based on
flawed or manipulated analyses during the planning phase. Some
projects are said to have created profound detrimental environmental
effects or provided questionable economic benefit such as the
Mississippi River– Gulf Outlet in southeast Louisiana. Faulty
design and substandard construction have been cited in the failure of
levees in the wake of
Hurricane Katrina that caused flooding of 80% of
the city of New Orleans.
Review of Corps of Engineers' projects has also been criticized for
its lack of impartiality. The investigation of levee failure in New
Hurricane Katrina was sponsored by the American Society
of Civil Engineers (ASCE) but funded by the Corps of Engineers and
involved its employees.
Corps of Engineers projects can be found in all fifty states, and
are specifically authorized and funded directly by Congress. Local
citizen, special interest, and political groups lobby Congress for
authorization and appropriations for specific projects in their
Russ Feingold and Senator
John McCain sponsored an amendment
requiring peer review of Corps projects to the Water Resources
Development Act of 2006, proclaiming "efforts to reform and add
transparency to the way the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers receives
funding for and undertakes water projects." A similar bill, the Water
Resources Development Act of 2007, which included the text of the
original Corps' peer review measure, was eventually passed by Congress
in 2007, overriding Presidential veto.
USACE civil works activities 2005
A number of Army camps and facilities designed by the Corps of
Engineers, including the former
Camp O'Ryan in New York State, have
reportedly had a negative impact on the surrounding communities. Camp
O'Ryan, with its rifle range, has possibly contaminated well and storm
runoff water with lead. This runoff water eventually runs into the
Niagara River and Lake Ontario, sources of drinking water to millions
of people. This situation is exacerbated by a failure to locate the
engineering and architectural plans for the camp, which were produced
by the New York District in 1949.
Greenhouse whistleblower suit
Bunnatine "Bunny" Greenhouse, a formerly high-ranking official in the
Corps of Engineers, won a lawsuit against the
United States government
in July 2011. Greenhouse had objected to the Corps accepting cost
projections from KBR in a no-bid, noncompetitive contract. After she
complained, Greenhouse was demoted from her Senior Executive Service
position, stripped of her top secret security clearance, and even,
according to Greenhouse, had her office booby-trapped with a trip-wire
from which she sustained a knee injury. A U.S. District court awarded
Greenhouse $970,000 in full restitution of lost wages, compensatory
damages, and attorney fees.
Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations
Military engineering of the United States
Coats of arms of U.S. Engineer Battalions
United States Air Force Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational
Repair Squadron Engineers
United States Navy's Seabees
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^ Yung, Christopher D., Gators of Neptune: naval amphibious planning
for the Normandy invasion, Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press,
ISBN 1-59114-997-5 (2006), pp. 99-103
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^ Improving Transportation Archived 6 January 2012 at the Wayback
^ "Historical Vignette 113 - Hide the development of the atomic bomb".
US Army Corps of Engineers Official Website. Retrieved 31 October
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^ Engineer Update Story on Iraqi Hydropower[permanent dead link]
^ USACE Homeland Security Mission webpage Archived 16 December 2008 at
the Wayback Machine.
Infrastructure Mission webpage Archived 14 October 2008 at the
^ "''Engineer Magazine'' article "
Disaster Relief"" (PDF). Retrieved
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Iwr.usace.army.mil. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
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^ a b USACE Environmental Mission webpage Archived 18 December 2008 at
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^ "USACE largest owner operator of hydroelectric power".
Operations.sam.usace.army.mil. Archived from the original on 9 January
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Infrastructure Report Card. Retrieved
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^ "Branch eBook - Military Science and Leadership". Sites.google.com.
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Time.com. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
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Missouri State News[dead link]
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Mississippi River Gulf Outlef — The Hurricane Highway".
Mrgomustgo.org. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
^ Colley Charpentier. "Critics of Corps investigation". Blog.nola.com.
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^ Army Corps of Engineers is Broken(See "Skewed Priorities")
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Archived 19 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Terry Baquet, The Times-Picayune. "Water bill passes despite Bush
veto". Blog.nola.com. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
^ FOIA Request to the Army Corps of Engineers, New York District,
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Wethersfield Range", 21 February 2007
^ "State of New York Annual Report of the Chief of Staff to the
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^ Davidson, Joe, "A Bittersweet Win For A Whistleblower", Washington
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This article incorporates public domain material from the
United States Government document "The
United States Army Corps of
This article incorporates public domain material from the
United States Government document "Miscellaneous USACE History
Stars and Stripes (1945). Engineering the Victory: The Story of the
Corps of Engineers. Retrieved 2014-11-11.
Historic photos of Corps of Engineers lock and dam projects throughout
Texas in 1910-20s (from the
Portal to Texas History)
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