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Interview With Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick

U.S. Army Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick became the 53rd Army Chief of Engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on May 22, 2012. The son of an Army master sergeant, he graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a Bachelor of Science degree and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers in 1978. He holds masters degrees in both civil engineering and mechanical engineering from Stanford University, and is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College.

Before 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 the Army.

Previous assignments include commanding general of U.S. Army Recruiting Command; director of the Directorate of Military Programs in USACE with duty as commander, Gulf Region Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom; and assistant division commander (maneuver), later assistant division commander (support), for the 1st Cavalry Division deploying during Operation Iraqi Freedom. 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, including the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

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.

As the USACE commanding general, he is responsible for more than 37,000 civilian employees and 600 military personnel. These men and women provide project management and construction support to 250 Army and Air Force installations in more than 130 countries around the world, and construction, operation and maintenance of much of the nation’s water resources infrastructure. USACE has a key role in support to overseas contingency operations (OCO), with thousands of civilians and Soldiers having deployed to support reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bostick is also responsible for the diverse USACE missions such as hundreds of environmental projects; the regulatory permit program to protect, restore, and enhance thousands of acres of wetlands; and the emergency response mission to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after a disaster, whether natural or man-made. As the chief of engineers, Army staff principal, Bostick advises the Army on engineering matters and serves as the Army’s topographer and the proponent for real estate and other related engineering programs.


Lt. Gen. Bostick, you assumed command of USACE in May 2012. What are your initial impressions, and what are your top priorities for the organization?

Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick: It is an honor and a privilege to lead this great engineering organization. I’ve spent a lot of time on the road since I took command, visiting USACE divisions and districts, interacting with our employees and leaders, and meeting with our partners and stakeholders, including elected officials, non-government organizations, and military customers. I’ve traveled to Africa, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Japan, and Korea, and extensively within the continental U.S., looking at a number of significant military and civil works projects, and I’ve observed our soldiers and civilians in action during floods, storms, and hurricanes. As our vision statement says, we are truly “Engineering solutions for our nation’s toughest challenges.”

Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick

Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. U.S. Army photo

My intent is that USACE continues to increase its public value:

… as a national asset that provides leadership and technical expertise in formulating and implementing environmental stewardship, water resources and broader sustainable infrastructure policies.

… as a Department of Defense asset that is the principal adviser and execution agent for Army and Air Force infrastructure development and maintenance; and

… as a professional asset that maintains strong in-house engineering, project management, and other technical capabilities required to execute federal responsibilities and satisfy stakeholder requirements, while providing national technical leadership in our mission areas.

I’m focusing on priorities that fall into four main categories: support the warfighter; transform civil works; reduce disaster risks; and prepare for tomorrow. We are aligning our refreshed campaign plan to national, Department of Defense, and Army strategic directions.

We must still support the current fight in Afghanistan and in the U.S. Central Command area of operations. That remains the top priority for the Army and USACE.

For the next several years, our major military construction efforts will be in the Pacific as we prepare for the multibillion dollar re-stationing efforts of joint forces, primarily in Korea and Japan.

USACE is also supporting national and combatant command [COCOM] priorities in more than 130 countries outside Afghanistan. We see this level of engagement and commitment continuing, and maybe even increasing in certain areas, as the national security strategy shifts in response to this changing, dynamic and uncertain world.

For the next several years, our major military construction efforts will be in the Pacific as we prepare for the multibillion dollar re-stationing efforts of joint forces, primarily in Korea and Japan.

We will focus increased attention on supporting the Army and the nation in achieving energy security and sustainability goals. Reducing energy dependence, increasing energy efficiency and adopting renewable and alternative energy sources are increasingly important for both the nation and our Army.

It is imperative that we increase the value that USACE provides to the nation by delivering timely water resource solutions. Our civil works program faces a myriad of challenges that are prompting swift transformation in our current business model to make it more relevant in the 21st century. The end result will be improved performance and responsiveness; increased customer satisfaction, public trust, and confidence; and improved readiness.

We must continue to enhance our interagency disaster response and recovery capability to support the needs of our nation. More and more, other nations are requesting USACE expertise to prepare for large-scale natural disasters, and to assist them during those catastrophes. As our nation requires, we will continue to support these international efforts.

In this current environment of declining Army resources, we must find additional methods to strengthen the teaming and partnering between USACE and the U.S. Army’s installation management command to achieve the efficiencies required.

Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick

Dan Kimball (left), superintendant of Everglades National Park, provides Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with an overview of the benefits of the Tamiami Trail Bridge Modifications Project on Oct. 10, 2012. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo

After more than a decade of war, we will all spend a significant amount of effort ensuring that the Army captures the lessons learned, and ensuring we properly design, shape, prepare and organize the Engineer Regiment to meet future requirements.

The strength of our Army and the Corps is our people.

The strength of our Army and the Corps is our people. Talent management and leader development are essential to our future success – how we recruit, retain, and develop our talent will help produce a team that can address future challenges that we will face.

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