Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a brief statement about the Mississippi River Commission, the Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) project, and my qualifications for the position for which I have been nominated.
The Mississippi River Commission, established by Act of Congress on June 28, 1879, consists of seven members, all of whom are appointed by the President of the United States subject to confirmation by the Senate. Three members are Corps of Engineers officers, one of whom serves as president; one member is from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and three members are from the civilian sector, two of whom must be civil engineers. The geographic area addressed by the Commission is generally described as the Mississippi River and its tributaries below the confluence of the Ohio River near Cairo, Illinois.
From its inception in 1879, the Commission has been charged with the vital task of planning and implementing a program of flood damage reduction projects and navigation improvements on the Mississippi River. More recently, project purposes have been expanded to include environmental restoration. This task continues to be conducted in concert with the myriad of political institutions, individuals, and public entities which have major interests in seeing that the water resources needs and opportunities of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley are evaluated, planned, designed, constructed, and maintained.
The Mississippi River Commission also is responsible for the oversight and management of the Mississippi River and Tributaries project, which was authorized by the Flood Control Act of May 15, 1928. While the MR&T project covers portions of seven states, it receives water from all or part of 31 states and part of two Canadian provinces, or roughly 41 percent of the contiguous United States. Effective planning, design, construction, and operation of the widespread and complex MR&T project have been assisted greatly by the Commission's active consultation with the public, particularly on its semiannual lower Mississippi River inspection trips, and by the high degree of professionalism that has been developed in its staff.
The MR&T project is truly of national significance. For example, a major flood on the lower Mississippi River would have catastrophic effects on the inhabitants of the Mississippi Valley and the economy of the nation were it not for the protection provided by the levees and other flood control works throughout the project area. Many have noted that the comprehensive project on the lower river provided for passage of major floods in 1973, 1983, and other years without the extensive damage suffered in the upper river area during the 1993 flood event.
In addition, the navigation features of the project are essential to maintaining the river for shipping import and export commodities between inland ports and world markets. In short, the navigation features of the MR&T project are essential in peace time and vital to our national defense in times of emergency.
In regards to my personal qualifications, I am a 1969 graduate of Virginia Military Institute with a Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering, while also earning a Master's Degree in Civil Engineering in 1976 from the University of Virginia. In addition, I am a graduate of the Command and General Staff College and the National War College.
I have served more than 27 years in the uniformed service as an Army Engineer. My experiences in the civil works function of the Corps of Engineers date back to 1976 when I served as a field engineer and research project manager in the Portland District in Portland, Oregon. Since August 1995, I have served as Commander of the Lower Mississippi Valley Division and also as chairman of the Mississippi River Commission.
As Commander of the Lower Mississippi Valley Division and while working with the Mississippi River Commission, I have had command and oversight of the largest civil works mission in the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. The civil works mission of the lower valley includes management of the Mississippi River from Hannibal, Missouri, to the Gulf, and tributaries to the Mississippi through that reach of the river. I provide command and control of Army Engineer Districts at St. Louis, Memphis, Vicksburg, and New Orleans. Management of the lower Mississippi River has required close coordination and understanding of the civil works functions of the Corps in divisions upstream, including the Missouri River Division, the North Central Division, and the Ohio River Division.
I have also served in several military assignments. Most recently I served in a temporary assignment to Bosnia from January 3 through March 17, 1996, as the deputy chief of staff for Engineering (Forward), U. S. Army Europe, and was responsible for the U. S. Forces construction in the Theater of Operations.
Some of my other major past assignments include Assistant Division Commander, 2nd Infantry Division, Eighth U. S. Army, South Korea; Deputy Commanding General and Deputy Assistant Commandant, U. S. Army Engineer Center; Assistant Commandant and Director of Training, U. S. Army Engineer School; and Commander of the 20th Engineer Brigade (Combat) (Airborne Corps) in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where I served during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
If confirmed to the position, Mr. Chairman, I would look forward to playing a key role in the continual improvement of the MR&T project and applying the best of modern practices in water resources engineering. I would also look forward to being president of a Commission that focuses not only on the traditional roles of safely passing the Mississippi River Basin floodwaters to the Gulf of Mexico, plus providing a safe and dependable navigable waterway, but also recognizes the nation's environmental awareness and incorporates environmental restoration as a function of the MR&T project.
Mr. Chairman, for your information, I have attached a complete biography on myself and a current list of members of the Mississippi River Commission.
Mr. Chairman, that completes my prepared statement, and I would be pleased to respond to any questions.