The UNITED STATES ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS (USACE), also sometimes shortened to COE, 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 disasters."
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 federal mandates . * 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 History
* 1.1 Early history * 1.2 Formerly Separate Units * 1.3 Civil War * 1.4 20th century * 1.5 Notable dates and projects
* 2 Organization
* 2.1 Headquarters * 2.2 Divisions and districts * 2.3 The Engineer Regiment * 2.4 Other USACE organizations * 2.5 Directly reporting military units
* 3 Mission areas
* 3.1 Warfighting * 3.2 Homeland security * 3.3 Infrastructure support * 3.4 Water resources * 3.5 Environment
* 4 Operational facts and figures * 5 Environmental protection and regulatory program * 6 Research * 7 Insignia
* 8 Controversies
* 8.1 Civil works * 8.2 Military construction * 8.3 Greenhouse whistleblower suit
* 9 See also * 10 References * 11 Further reading * 12 External links
Plan of the military academy at West Point, New York.
The history of
The Corps of Engineers, as it is known today, came into existence on
16 March 1802, when President
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
FORMERLY SEPARATE UNITS
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 ,
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
A bulldozer operated by Sgt. C. G. McCutcheon of the 1304th
Engineer Construction Battalion on the
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 in the 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
NOTABLE DATES AND PROJECTS
Gatun Lock Construction, Panama Canal, 12 March 1912. An
aerial view of the
John F. 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 withdrawn (1838)
* The 555 ft 5 1⁄8 in (169.29 m) tall
Occasional civil disasters, including the Great Mississippi Flood of
1927 , resulted in greater responsibilities for the Corps of
Engineers. The aftermath of
Chief of Engineers
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 Districts.
THE ENGINEER REGIMENT
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
The Engineer Regiment includes the 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 Engineers:
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 (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, polices 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
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
Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region , which is
charged with the homeland security of the
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 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
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
USACE supports the United States' Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through its security planning, force protection, research and development, disaster preparedness efforts, and quick response to emergencies and disasters.
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
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 levees.
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 U.S.
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 and/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.
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
All of this work represents a significant investment in the nation's resources.
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 missions.
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
The 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 include
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 States.
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, or ordnance * complies with federal, state, and local environmental laws and regulations * strives to minimize our use of hazardous materials * conserves our natural and cultural resources
The following are major areas of environmental emphasis:
See also Environmental Enforcement below.
OPERATIONAL FACTS AND FIGURES
Summary of facts and figures as of 2007, provided by the Corps of Engineers:
* 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 and/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 controversies"
* 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
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
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
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 Geospatial Center (AGC).
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 * Structural engineering * 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 dredge spoils * Geotechnical engineering * Earthquake engineering * 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 Information Officer .
The Corps of Engineers branch insignia, the
A current tradition was established with the "
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works controversies
Secretary of the Army
Francis J. Harvey (r) discusses U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers operations in
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 and the
Review of Corps of Engineers' projects has also been criticized for
its lack of impartiality. The investigation of levee failure in New
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 area.
Russ Feingold and Senator
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
Niagara River and
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.
* Engineering portal
Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations
Military engineering of the
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* ^ "Biography of Debra M. Lewis". Retrieved 2014-10-08.
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* ^ "Committee Reports". loc.gov.
* ^ "Headquarters U.S. Army Corps of Engineers > About > History >
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* ^ Charting the Inland Seas: A History of the U.S. Lake Survey,
Arthur M. Woodford, 1991
* ^ "Lake Survey". Greatlakesmaps.org. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
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the American Civil War, Engineer: The Professional Bulletin for Army
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* ^ USACE Office of History vignettes Archived 15 April 2008 at the
* This article incorporates public domain material from the United
States Government document "The
* 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