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The United States Army Corps of Engineers, or USACE, is made up of some 34,600 civilian and 650 military men and women. The Corps' mission is to provide engineering services to the United States, including:
- Planning, designing, building and operating dams and other civil engineering projects
- Designing and managing the construction of military facilities for the Army and Air Force
- Providing design and construction management support for other Defense and federal agencies
The Corps' history began in 1775 when the Continental Congress authorized the first Chief Engineer whose first task was to build fortifications near Boston at Bunker Hill. In 1802 a corps of engineers was stationed at West Point and constituted the nation's first military academy. The United States Military Academy was under the direction of the Corps of Engineers until 1866. In the Twentieth Century the Corps oversaw major hydroelectric projects as well as the Manhattan Project, which developed the nuclear weapons used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Chief of Engineers has separate and distinct command and staff responsibilities. As a staff officer at the Pentagon, the Chief advises the Army on engineering matters and serves as the Army's topographer and the proponent for real estate and other related engineering programs. As commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Chief of Engineers leads a major Army command that is the world's largest public engineering, design and construction management agency. This office defines policy and guidance and plans direction for the organizations within the Corps.
The US Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters is made up of an Executive Office and 17 Staff Principals. The Headquarters, located in Washington, DC, creates policy and plans future direction of all the other Corps organizations.
The Corps is organized geographically into eight divisions in the US and 41 subordinate districts throughout the US, Asia and Europe. The districts oversee project offices throughout the world. Divisions and districts are defined by watershed boundaries, not by states.
One of the major responsibilities of the Corps of Engineers is administering the wetlands permitting program under Section 404 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972. (AKA "The Clean Water Act"). This Act authorized the Secretary of the Army to issue permits for the discharge of dredged and fill material. Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 gave the Corps authority over navigable waters of the United States. As navigable waters are defined as "navigable waters of the United States are 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", the Corps has broad authority to enforce this.
There are three types of permits issued by the Corps: Nationwide, regional Genereal, and individual. 80% of the permits issued are nationwide permits, which include several general types of activities, as published in the Federal Register. To get a nationwide permit, an applicant need only send a letter to the regional Corps office notifying them of your intent. Regional general permits are specific to each Corps division office. Individual permits are required for projects greater than 0.5 acres (2,000 mē) in size.
The Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) is the US Army Corps of Engineers research and development command. ERDC consists of eight unique laboratories.
Research support includes:
There are several other major organizations within the Corps of Engineers:
- Huntsville, US 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’ elements
- Transatlantic Programs Center (CETAC) - supports US government programs and policies overseas
- Finance Center, USACE (CEFC) - supports the operating finance and accounting functions throughout the US Army Corps of Engineers
- Humphreys Engineer Center Support Activity (CEHEC) - provides administrative and operational support for HQUSACE and Corps Field Offices
- Marine Design Center (CEMDC) - provides total project management including planning, engineering, and shipbuilding contract management in support of Corps, 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 USACE offices by developing and applying new planning evaluation methods, polices and data in anticipation of changing water resources management conditions.
- 249th Engineer Battalion - 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. It also maintains Army power generation and distribution war reserves.
The Corps' Web site is http://www.usace.army.mil/ .