On May 22, 2012, Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick became the 53rd U.S. Army chief of engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Bostick serves as the senior military officer overseeing most of the nation’s civil works infrastructure and military construction.
Developing leaders is the most important thing we do. We are investing in our talent to retain highly skilled, competent, innovative, and adaptive leaders to move the organization forward in this challenging environment.
As the USACE commanding general, he is responsible for more than 33,000 civilian employees and 700 military personnel who provide project management, construction support, and engineering expertise in more than 130 countries around the world. USACE has a key role in support to overseas contingency operations, with thousands of civilians and Soldiers having deployed to support reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bostick is also responsible for USACE’s diverse missions, such as hundreds of environmental protection projects; a regulatory permit program to protect, restore, and enhance thousands of acres of wetlands; and an emergency response mission to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency in restoration and repair after a disaster, whether natural or man-made. As the chief of engineers, Army staff principal, 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.
Prior to USACE, Bostick served as deputy chief of staff of G-1, Personnel, U.S. Army, responsible for developing, managing, and executing manpower and personnel plans, programs, and policies for more than 1 million Soldiers and 300,000 civilians in the Army.
Bostick also served in a variety of command and staff assignments both in the continental United States and overseas. Command positions include: commanding general, U.S. Army Recruiting Command; director of Military Programs, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with duty as commander, Gulf Region Division, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq; assistant division commander (maneuver), later assistant division commander (support), 1st Cavalry Division, Operation Iraqi Freedom; commander, Engineer Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Operation Joint Forge, Bosnia-Herzegovina; and commander, 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Infantry Division (mechanized).
He served as executive officer to the chief of engineers, executive officer to the Army chief of staff, and deputy director of operations for the National Military Command Center, J-3, the Joint Staff in the Pentagon from May 2001 to August 2002, the period during which the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred.
Bostick was also an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at West Point and was a White House fellow, serving as a special assistant to the secretary of Veterans Affairs.
The general graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1978 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He holds a master’s degree in both civil engineering and mechanical engineering from Stanford University, and is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College. He is also a registered professional engineer in Virginia.
Bostick took some time out of his schedule to reflect on one of the four USACE Campaign Plan Goals – Prepare for Tomorrow – and give an update on some important initiatives related to workforce development and research and development.
Rhonda Carpenter: How is USACE ensuring that leaders are in the pipeline to meet future needs in this environment (i.e., downsizing after war, retirements, etc.)?
Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick: Developing leaders is the most important thing we do. We are investing in our talent to retain highly skilled, competent, innovative, and adaptive leaders to move the organization forward in this challenging environment. We provide various training opportunities for our staff, but more importantly, we are developing these individuals through an integrated and synchronized leadership development program. The program includes a national-level Emerging Leaders Program, a Proponent-Sponsored Engineer Corps Training Program for technical competencies, and a partnership with the Office of Personnel Management for development assessments and training. We also encourage all employees to obtain and renew professional credentials and work with their supervisors to identify broadening development opportunities and seek mentors to help them grow. Each of these programs or strategies [has] proven to be [a] powerful retention tool and [has] led to engaged employees who are prepared to lead the organization and meet potential challenges. We cannot afford not to develop tomorrow’s leaders!
You’ve been quoted as saying, “People are the foundation of the Corps: our effectiveness, our value, our reputation.” What is USACE doing to attract the best talent and how important is a diverse workforce?
We are committed to attracting the best and the brightest, and we have a comprehensive strategy to recruit and retain talent. We think it is very important to continuously share our story. America has grown up with the Army Corps of Engineers. Not many people know that our legacy includes iconic American projects like the Washington Monument, the U.S. Capitol Dome, the Library of Congress, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Pentagon. We have great pride in the missions we continue to deliver around the world, and we want to attract those individuals who are excited about public service to join our team.