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Civil works projects mean American jobs, Army leader says

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Feb. 11, 2015) -- For every $1 billion spent on civil works projects by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, about 20,000 jobs are created, Army senior leaders said.

During a Feb. 11 hearing before the House Appropriations Committee, subcommittee on energy and water, regarding the fiscal year 2016 civil works budget, Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, told lawmakers that money spent on civil works projects means jobs for Americans.

Bostick told lawmakers that 10,000 full-time jobs are created that are directly related to each $1 billion spent on civil works projects, while an additional 10,000 jobs are created that are indirectly related to such spending.

He also said that the Corps' efforts to maintain waterways, such as on the Mississippi, are also responsible for keeping Americans employed, as well as for bolstering economic activity.

"If you look along Mississippi, there are a lot of jobs that are dependent, and a lot of businesses that are dependent on the efficient dredging of the Mississippi," Bostick said. He said dredging there allows barge traffic to move more efficiently and said that both businesses and people benefit from the increased and more efficient use of the river as a result.

"The greater that capacity ... the more population and more businesses that would develop and benefit from it," he said.

Bostick estimated that the Corps' work along the Mississippi benefits some 800,000 people. "Their livelihood depends on efficient flow of the river," he said.

Bostick also told lawmakers that an array of invasive species of carp, known collectively in the United States as the "Asian carp," appears to have not moved any closer to the Great Lakes than it had been in 2006. The general provided updates to concerned lawmakers regarding both the carp, and some of the efforts the Corps is involved in to ensure the fish doesn't make its way into the lakes.

"The electric barrier is about 37 miles from the great lakes," he said. "The presence of adult fish is about 55 miles. The spawning area is at about 62 miles. And the established population is about 143 miles away from the Great Lakes."

"The point is, the leading edge of the Asian carp has not changed movement since about 2006," he said. "We don't know why they haven't moved. But they have not moved from that leading edge of where the carp are located since 2006."

Bostick also told lawmakers that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is engaged furthering four "campaign goals," as part of its mission.

First among those is the support of national security, he said.

"The Corps supports the national security of the U.S.," Bostick said. "We continue to work in more than 110 countries using our civil works, military missions, water resources, and research and development expertise, to support our nation's combatant commanders."

The second campaign goal, he said, is the transformation of how it executes its civil works mission. That campaign goal has four points of its own, Bostick said. That includes modernizing the project planning process; enhancing the budget development process through a "systems-oriented approach;" developing an infrastructure strategy to evaluate the current inventory of projects to help identify priorities; and improving methods of delivery to produce and deliver "sound decisions, products and services that will improve the ways in which we manage and use our water resources."

Bostick said the third campaign goal of the Corps is to continue its proactive approach to, and to continue to develop improved strategies to reduce disaster risk, as well as to respond to natural disasters when they do occur.

"I continue to be very impressed at the work of the Army Corps of Engineers in this particular area," he said, citing the Corps' work in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, as one example. He said that in regards to the Sandy response, the flood control and coastal emergency program is more than 95 percent complete, while the sand operations and maintenance program is more than 70 percent complete and is also on schedule to be 100 percent complete by the end of 2016.

Bostick also cited, as part of the Sandy response, the recent completion of the "North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study." The study was commissioned by Congress in 2013, and looks at the risk along 31,000 miles of Atlantic Ocean shoreline from North Carolina to New Hampshire.

Finally, the fourth campaign goal of the Corps, Bostick said, is planning for the future of his organization by ensuring it continues to hire the best personnel.

"This is all about our people, and ensuring we have a pipeline of talented military and civilian teammates as well as a strong workforce development program and a talent management program," he said. "Equally important is helping our nation's wounded warriors and Soldiers as they transition out of active duty to find fulfilling careers."

Bostick said that last year, the Corps had set a goal of assisting 125 Soldiers transition out of the military and into civilian jobs.

"We exceeded that goal by more than 50 percent," he said. "Nearly 200 wounded warriors found permanent positions within the Corps or other organizations across America."