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Responding to New Needs

After World War II, the Corps developed and maintained new navigation systems such as the McClellan-Kerr and Tennessee-Tombigbee waterways and the American portion of the St. Lawrence Seaway. At the same time, modernization of existing waterways became a growing concern. Heavier tows, barges, and other vessels plied the nation's major rivers. Locks such as those on the upper Mississippi, built mainly in the 1930s, were no longer adequate to handle the traffic. Lock and Dam 26 near Alton, Illinois, was the principal bottleneck on the upper Mississippi system until a new lock was constructed in the 1980s.

Some of the Corps' construction activities since World War II have been a bit unusual. The Corps built Veterans Administration hospitals; Nike, Atlas, Titan, and Minuteman missile sites; NASA facilities, including the massive vehicle assembly building at Cape Kennedy; post offices and bulk mail facilities; and armed forces recruiting centers. It also experimented with various kinds of shore protection.

Successes at home were matched by the Corps' accomplishments abroad. Through its Grecian District established in 1947, the Corps restored Greece's severely damaged transportation and communication network. Army engineers cleared the Corinth Canal, restored the port of Piraeus, and built or repaired over 3,000 kilometers of roads. The Corps established some major precedents in Greece. For the first time, it organized an engineer district to administer and supervise large-scale civil works in a foreign country. The Corps provided technical assistance in conjunction with economic aid an approach that came to typify many American foreign assistant programs. Finally, the practice of training indigenous contractors and artisans to perform as much of the actual work as possible began in Greece.

Since the 1950s, the Corps has engaged in major engineering studies and projects in many countries. The projects included roads in Afghanistan, Iran, and other mid eastern countries; and, pursuant to the Camp David accords, the Israeli air force bases in Ovda and Ramon. Surveys dealt with transportation networks and entire public works programs. From 1959 to 1964, Army engineers examined port and highway projects and built airports, highway systems, and ports in eight countries: Afghanistan, Burma, British Guiana, Iran, Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the Somali Republic. These efforts cost approximately $109.5 million.

Under terms of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the Corps began work in reimbursable programs through the State Department's Agency for International Development (AID). Beginning in 1963, the Corps undertook several large-scale construction projects in Saudi Arabia. Between 1976 and 1986, this effort exceeded $14 billion, the largest construction program in the Corps' history. The Corps also did reimbursable work in Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, and Libya. Almost all of these projects involved work on transportation networks such as road or airport construction.

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