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Posted 8/13/2013

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By Bernard Tate
Headquarters USACE


On Aug. 6, Gen. John Campbell, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, addressed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Strategic Leaders’ Conference at Fort Belvoir, Va.  About 150 members of the USACE senior military and civilian leadership attended the speech in the Belvoir Room of the Fort Belvoir Officers’ Club.

Campbell opened his speech by holding up a copy of “Building America”, the special edition of USA Today that details the history and missions of USACE.

“I saw this a couple of weeks ago when it first came out,” Campbell said.  “I was amazed at the breadth and depth of the influence that you have throughout the United States and throughout the world.  It’s incredible.  We talk about our great Total Force Army, the active duty Soldiers, the Reserves and the National Guard.  The active force has a lot of bases, but the Guard and Reserves are in every zip code in our nation.

“I look at the Corps of Engineers in the same way,” Campbell said.  “You touch our country and the world in ways that most people really can’t fathom, and you do it in both war and peace.  I don’t think that people have a true sense of what our fine Corps of Engineers does to support the warfighter, so it is a great opportunity to talk to you.”

During his 45-minute speech, Campbell gave a brief overview of the challenges currently facing the Army, and then opened the floor for questions.  One question was, “What do you look for in a civilian leader?”

“For my first 15 or 20 years, I had little contact with our civilian workforce,” Campbell said.  “That’s common for a lot of our military growing up in the units; they just don’t have contact with our great civilians.  Then they go to the Pentagon or to an agency like the Corps of Engineers, and then they see the great value that our civilians bring to the force.  So I think that early-on we have to educate our military on that interaction and the value that our civilians bring to the fight.

“What I look for in great civilians are some of the same qualities I would look for in our great Soldiers,” Campbell added.  “Dedicated, committed leaders with good character who share the same values that we share.”

Campbell concluded his speech saying, “What’s the bottom line?  The bottom line is that you are in the best Army in the world -- the best manned, the best equipped, the best trained, the best led.  We’re going through a time of transition, but at the end you’ll still be in the best Army in the world.”

After Campbell's speech, Maj. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, Deputy Commanding General and Deputy Chief of Engineers, presented Campbell with a copy of "Capital Engineers: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Development of Washington, D.C., 1790-2004."  The book, written by Pamela Scott and published by the Office of History, chronicles the Corps’ role in building Washington, D.C.

Fort Belvoir General John Campbell strategic leaders conference va VCSA vice chief of staff of the army