United States Army Corps of Engineers

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The US Army Corps of Engineers builds a stick dam during the American Civil War ( Peninsula Campaign , May to August 1862 )

The United States Army Corps of Engineers ( USACE ) is a main command of the US Army that performs services in the field of civil engineering . It consists of approximately 34,600 civilians and 650 soldiers.


The second continental congress, the gathering of delegates from the 13 colonies of North America, gave the order to build military fortifications at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War on June 16, 1775 during the siege of Boston by the Americans. A sortie was expected from the trapped British, which then became known as the Battle of Bunker Hill . The failure was so loss-making for the British, as the built redoubt and the reinforced protective fences were very effective, that it amounted to a defeat. The troops deployed to build military installations also proved their worth in the following war years.

This caused Congress to pass the following resolution on March 11, 1779:

"That the engineers in the service of the United States shall be formed into a corps, and styled the 'corps of engineers' and shall take rank and enjoy the same rights, honors, and privileges, with the other troops ..."

"The pioneers in the service of the United States are to form a corps that will be called" corps of engineers ". They receive the same rank and the same rights, honors and privileges as the other branches of the army ... "


The tasks of the Army Corps of Engineers are not limited to the construction and maintenance of military facilities. It is a major provider of civil engineering services for government clients. In the time of the New Deal it built a flood protection system over 11,000 km long for the Mississippi River and its tributaries. In 1942, the 2,288 km long Alaska Highway was built. The USACE has also built a number of dams and canals (e.g. the Panama Canal ).



The corps operates a large number of watercraft, from flat boats to large ocean-going vessels. Most of the vehicles are work vessels (e.g. dredgers and survey vessels ) and tugs. Examples:

  • Dredgers
    • Essayons (length: 108 m, seaworthy) IMO 7923495 - Northwestern Division
    • Yaquina - Northwestern Division
  • Survey vessels
    • Elton - Northwestern Division
    • KH Patterson - Northwestern Division
    • Redlinger - Northwestern Division
    • West Mark - Northwestern Division


USACE is divided into eight divisions and 41 subdivisions for the United States , Asia, and Europe . On January 25, 2004, a provisional ninth division with four districts was established for tasks in Iraq and Afghanistan , so that the USACE now comprises nine geographically structured divisions with 45 districts.

Divisions in 2008
  • Great Lakes and Ohio River Division (LRD)
      Great Lakes and Ohio River
  • Mississippi Valley Division (MVD)
Mississippi River
  • North Atlantic Division (NAD)
North Atlantic
  • Northwestern Division (NWD)
  • Pacific Ocean Division (POD)
Pacific Ocean
  • South Atlantic Division (SAD)
South Atlantic
  • South Pacific Division (SPD)
South pacific
  • Southwestern Division (SWD)
  • Gulf Region Division (GRD)
Gulf region

Directorate of Engineering and Housing

The Directorate of Engineering and Housing (DEH) is a division of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Depending on the size of the location, the individual tasks are carried out directly by the company's own staff or assigned to local companies through contracts. Tradespeople services, heating plants, planning of new buildings and conversions are typically operated with their own staff. From a certain size, a DEH also has its own fire brigade , garbage disposal and street cleaning . The size of the individual departments and their range of tasks depend on the size of the location and the local conditions. The fire brigades range from emergency call centers and operations management services for coordination with the local civil fire brigade to full fire engines and fire stations. The structure of the fire services mostly corresponds to the structures of the stationing country.

Especially in otherwise structurally weak locations, the DEH is often the largest employer and in locations with insufficient own residential accommodation it is also an important and secure tenant of living space for decades. This was an important economic factor for large rural areas in Germany after the war.

Each location has its own DEH, although a location can include several locations. This is also regulated in this way at locations in Germany and in other stationing countries. For the stationing locations, this always means a large number of jobs, as many positions are and were deliberately filled with local staff.

In the meantime, a number of locations in Germany have been closed, including the associated DEH, which has led to considerable job losses, for example in Frankfurt am Main , where the DEH was gradually dismantled in 1995 because the location was completely closed. But also in Rhineland-Palatinate , previously important locations have been closed or merged.

An estimated several hundred employees still work for this department in Germany. By the end of the Cold War there were a few thousand.

Comparison with Germany

No permanent organization equivalent to the Army Corps of Engineers developed in Germany. However, during the National Socialist era, the paramilitary construction team Organization Todt was commissioned to expand infrastructures .

The construction and maintenance of military infrastructure in Germany is now largely carried out with civilian contractors. Military infrastructure abroad is built up by regular pioneer associations of the Bundeswehr , depending on the risk situation and scope , or the corresponding agencies of the organizations leading the patronage (in the case of NATO and ISAF, for example the NAMSA ) are used. The Society for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) also came into play occasionally.

In the civil sector, large civil engineering projects are also carried out by civil companies. In emergencies and disasters, the Technical Relief Agency (THW) is primarily responsible, which may receive administrative assistance from the Bundeswehr. In the event of a disaster, it can also be sent abroad, where it works with local organizations or, in less developed countries, with other aid organizations and GTZ.


  • JW Morris: The Corps in Perspective since 1775 . Department of the Army, Office of the Chief of Engineers, Washington, DC, 1976

See also

Web links

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