The new commander of the U-S Army Corps of Engineers is still settling into the job supervising the Omaha district. It’s the largest district of the Corps, and the most diverse. But Colonel Jeff Bedey says his responsibility is clear. He says the Omaha district with its staff of about 1200 people do everything they can to help strengthen national security, energize the economy through management of waterways in the district, and enhance the environment. Colonel Bedey’s been in the Army for 21-and-a-half years, and has a degree in construction engineering from Montana State Unviersity and a master’s in construction management from Colorado State. Most recently, though, he was at the Pakistani National Defense College serving as the army’s representative in a course on national-security strategy. Bedey says in that 11 months he learned an appreciation for the culture of the Pakistani people in the Islamic world, and says “I think, and I hope, and I pray” that he was able to communicate to them what the U.S. is, and what it represents in democracy and freedom for people throughout the world. And while management of the Missouri River and its drought-shrunken water supply is the biggest issue when some think of the Corps, Bedey comes from a perspective that sees its work around the country and the world. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is essential to the success of the armed forces, here and in some 90 countries where the Corps works, and Bedey says it offers research and development to improve infrastructure protection, as part of its homeland-security mission and the global war on terrorism. If he can be forgiven for not focusing yet on hydro dams and the piping plover, Bedey says his greatest asset in the job will be the people already working in the Corps’ Omaha district. While he’s just stepped in as commander of the Omaha district, he says “great people” have been working the issues and concerns for months and years, so they’ll bring him up to speed.
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