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News | Feb. 23, 2024

Army Corps of Engineers provides global infrastructure support

WASHINGTON — The approximately 37,000 members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers work year-round to provide emergency response, environmental support, and infrastructure upgrades to customers in more than 130 countries worldwide.

“I couldn’t be prouder to be the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” said Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, USACE commanding general and 55th chief of engineer. “We have a proud 249-year history of service to the nation and look forward to continuing to build on that legacy.”

Emergency Response

Every year, USACE deploys hundreds of members as part of the federal government’s unified national response to disasters and emergencies. The corps has more than 50 specially-trained response teams to handle relief and recovery efforts.

These teams deliver engineering support, coordinate long-term infrastructure recovery, and provide advanced planning measures designed to reduce the damage caused by a disaster.

Following the wildfires in Hawaii at the end of the summer, USACE sent their teams.

They installed generators, removed debris, and are currently managing the construction of a temporary elementary school for the Lahaina community on Maui, which is nearing completion. They’re also managing the design, site preparation and construction of 400-600 foundation pads for temporary housing.

Last spring, President Joe Biden ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies to support the U.S. territory of Guam in the aftermath of Typhoon Mawar.

The storm brought widespread flooding and strong winds, damaging homes and leaving thousands of people without power.

USACE personnel evaluated critical infrastructure locations for generator serviceability and installed 100 units. Additionally, the team helped build more than 500 temporary roofs, performed damage assessments, and assisted with mission relief efforts.

Environmental Support

The Omaha District partnered with the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe to complete a $11.6 million construction project in Lower Brule, South Dakota, last summer. Decades of water erosion led to more than 500 acres of lost land.

To fix the issue, the teams built a 5,000-foot-long offshore structure to protect against waves and storm surge. They also added landscaping and created a recreational area with a basketball court, picnic shelters, swimming area and a boat ramp.

The project was the first in the country done under the Tribal Partnership Program, a section of the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 that allows the corps and other federal agencies to carry out projects that benefit Indian tribes.

A feasibility study for a second project is underway to improve the shoreline north of the first project.

“That’s an important step that allows us to continue to move forward on what is going to be about an additional four miles of ecosystem restoration and natural resource preservation in this very area,” said then USACE Omaha District Commander Col. Mark Himes. “So, although we stand here and celebrate today, as we should on an extremely successful project, there’s a ton of work ahead of us, and we’re going to continue to move forward with the partnership and collaboration we’ve established to finish what we’ve started.”

Meanwhile, the Walla Walla District finished dredging work in the Snake and Clearwater Rivers near Lewison, Idaho last spring. The nearly year-long project included design, data collection, dredging and ensuring the work met environmental standards.

The work provided necessary maintenance to keep the waterways at the mandated depth of 14-feet. The dredging phase of the project took almost two months to complete and saw the team remove 218,000 cubic yards of sediment.

“It is often overlooked that responsible stewardship of the natural and non-natural resources we are entrusted with is an intrinsic part of our commitment as engineers and designers,” said Frank Wachob, Walla Walla District civil engineer. “I believe this project serves as a good demonstration that shows we can effectively utilize our natural resources responsibly and exercise good stewardship to preserve those resources for future generations.”

Infrastructure Support

The Europe District celebrated the completion of a $38 million project to improve the Kainji Air Force Base in Nigeria last April. The construction helps facilitate the operation and maintenance of the Nigerian A-29 Super Tucano wing stationed at the base.

The team implemented the base improvements in two phases. The first finished in 2021 and allowed the delivery of the first A-29 aircraft, used to combat violent extremist organizations. The second stage included improving base security, munitions storage and maintenance, aircraft hangars and aprons, and training facilities.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proudly supports our international partners like Nigeria by providing unique engineering expertise to bolster security capabilities, strengthen strategic relationships, and contribute to regional security,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, North Atlantic Division Commander Brig. Gen. John Lloyd. “Here at Kainji Air Base, it has been an absolute privilege to partner with the U.S. Embassy, U.S. Air Force, and the Nigerian Air Force to deliver these support facilities for their new fleet of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft.”

A new elementary school opened in Grafenwoehr, Germany, this fall. The Europe District worked with German contractors to complete the $37.5 million building. The facility will serve up to 400 students each year.

The two-story school features an interactive nature path, student-maintained gardens, amphitheater-steps for music events and outdoor learning, and two playgrounds.

In Asia, the Far East District is close to finishing a $139 million family housing project in Camp Humphreys, South Korea. The apartment towers will have 216 family units with multi-age playgrounds and underground parking.

Exterior work on the project included recreational courts, gazebos, bike racks and landscaping. A ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for this month.

Whether rebuilding after a devastating storm, protecting precious ecosystems, or providing modern facilities for communities, UASCE engineers continue to make a positive impact around the world.

“As I look towards the next year, my number one priority remains safely delivering quality projects on time and within budget,” Spellmon said. "I see this happening through an approach that focuses on the idea of “thinking differently” across everything we do so that our solutions represent a multitude of cultures, disciplines, scientific approaches, and skills. This infusion of diversity of thought will better advance our efforts on innovation, how we do business, and allow us to continue taking care of our most important resource — our people.”