By Buddy Blouin
Sometimes we take things for granted. For example, how we travel, the fact that even cities with flooding issues can be cities at all, or the creation of military weapons used to protect our country. Chances are, even for military and ex-military personnel, these aren’t at the forefront of your thoughts every day. This is because there are movies to see, work to be done, the kids have soccer practice, etc. But the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) helps make various projects happen that enhance not only our military but the lives of everyday Americans.

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What Does the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Do?

Going into the specifics of what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does could take a lifetime, but they're an organization that helps support military and civilian engineering projects that advance American interests. This can range from keeping invasive species away from waterways to building canals to helping the military develop weaponry and more. Here are some notable projects that the USACE has worked on:
  • Assisting on the Manhattan Project.
  • Building the Bonneville Lock and Dam.
  • Channeling the Los Angeles River and some of the Santa Ana River.
  • Clearing the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers for travel.
  • Completing the construction of the Panama Canal.
  • Many construction projects during the Civil War, including the creation of railroads, bridges, and military structures.
  • Siege works used during the Battle of Yorktown.
  • The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).
  • Various flood control projects throughout the United States.
During World War I, some engineers were called into active duty. World War II would expand the need for the USACE, providing 27,000 total projects with a $15.3 billion mobilization effort spanning from weaponry to camps to hospitals and more. You may find an engineer creating a floating tactical bridge, or you might find them in charge of creating one of the many U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds. Overall, wherever there's a need for engineering to help Americans, the USACE is there to get the job done.

France, Colonel Richard Gridley, and the Continental Army

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started before there was a U.S. to begin with. In 1775, George Washington and the Continental Army knew that it had a glaring need for engineers who specialized in military engineering. Washington would call upon Colonel Richard Gridley, who would serve as the yet-to-be-formed country’s first Chief Engineer. But this wasn’t enough for the task at hand, a fact they both knew. So, they called upon the French. King Louis XVI and his government were contacted by Washington and his men, as they needed specialists who could serve as engineers for the Continental Army. The call was answered, and many ex-French officers would join the cause to act as engineers for the Army. While the Corps of Engineers was disbanded in 1783, Washington would bring the organization back once he became President. As it stands today, the USACE can find its roots tracing back to its modern formation in 1802. Since then, the role that USACE plays has evolved. While the organization still has a military focus, it also benefits the lives of citizens through projects that aid in construction, recreation, commerce, and travel.

How To Join the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Working with the USACE is a great career path for civilians with or without military experience. It’s an awesome way to serve your local community as well as your overall country and military branches. If you're looking for info on how to apply, simply click the link and follow the easy steps listed. You’ll need to create a USAJOBS account in order to search for positions. From there, you’ll be able to create your resume and apply to positions that match your skills and interests. Alternatively, you can also use the Army Civilian Service portal. Again, it’s here that you can search for jobs. Simply log into your USAJOBS account, fill out your resume, and submit your application. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers doesn’t get enough credit, but the organization is a very important cog in the machine. From the frontlines to the home front, USACE does a lot to improve the lives of American citizens, our economy, and our Armed Forces.

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Image:Noe Gonzalez | U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Northwestern Division




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