Top engineer visits Sappers
October 2, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING STATION MAREZ, MOSUL, Iraq (Sept. 23) - Lt. Gen. Robert Van Antwerp, chief of engineers and commanding general, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), traveled to Iraq to visit Soldiers with the 130th Engineer Brigade here, Sept. 23.
In his State of the Engineer Regiment address to hundreds of Soldiers at a town hall meeting, Van Antwerp stated, "If I have to say one thing, it\'s thank you," he said, commending the Soldiers for their exceptional service in Iraq.
Van Antwerp gave the Soldiers background information about USACE and the role he plays as the Army's head engineer. He also addressed concerns about the future of Army engineers.
Van Antwerp discussed the future of the engineer structure in the Army, including brigade engineer battalions (BEB), which will provide "Sapper" and route-clearance capabilities, as well as construction and limited bridge-building capabilities to brigade combat teams.
Van Antwerp discussed deployment cycles for troops. The goal is to make deployments more predictable and give Soldiers more time between deployments.
With a $40 billion budget, more than double what it was 10 years ago, USACE is heavily involved with missions inside and outside of the U.S.
Van Antwerp explained to the Soldiers that USACE's missions range from projects at home to projects abroad.
USACE manages dams and waterways in the U.S. and is currently working on dredging harbors. The need for harbor work in the U.S. arose from the expansion of the Panama Canal, which is being improved to keep pace with a growing global demand for trade goods and larger ships needed to carry these goods. USACE's upgrades will accommodate these larger ships.
While USACE's role in Iraq is winding down, its mission in Afghanistan is growing. With an expected troop surge in the country, USACE is preparing to meet the increase. Its presence will help commanders on the ground perform more effective counterinsurgency operations in the country.
Van Antwerp, whose distinguished career as an Army engineer includes assignments with the 65th and 84th Engineer Battalions, served different tours as the executive officer for both battalions during the 1980s.
The 65th and 84th Soldiers gave an especially warm welcome to Van Antwerp during his visit.
Van Antwerp told the 130th Eng. Bde.'s headquarters Soldiers, "I'm proud of the 130th. Wherever you go, your reputation precedes you."
Presenting the general with a 130th Eng. Bde. hat and T-shirt, Col. Fabian Mendoza Jr., commander, 130th Eng. Bde., welcomed Van Antwerp into the 130th family.