Incoming Corps Commander Strock receives Corps flag from Army Chief of Staff Schoomaker, as retiring Chief Flowers (back to camera) and 3rd U.S. Infantry Commander, Col. Charles Taylor (far right), look on.

With flags flying and the U.S. Army Band playing, Maj. Gen. Carl A. Strock assumed command on July 1 of the Corps of Engineers from Lt. Gen. Robert B. Flowers, before hundreds of spectators, including family members, dignitaries, troops and four retired Corps chiefs, in a ceremony at Fort Myer, Va.

To signal the change of command, Flowers presented the Corps flag to Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, who gave it to Strock, the Army's 51st Chief of Engineers. Strock also received from Flowers his gold insignia, which originally belonged to Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

Flowers, whose official retirement date is Aug. 1, is expected to take a job in the private sector and has had several offers, Corps sources say. They wouldn't say what that job will be, but added that an announcement is expected the week of July 5.

The change of command was the first time in 20 years that a Corps chief's retirement ceremony also marked the installation of his successor, noted John Paul Woodley, Jr., the Army's assistant secretary for civil works. In the past, delays in choosing a new chief or the Senate's confirming someone to that post meant periods in which the Corps had interim commanders. Woodley told ENR that having a "seamless transition" is important to the Corps, particularly at a time when it is fighting terrorists overseas and facing major challenges in its domestic civil works program. Woodley says that "however talented that interim leadership is, it's necessarily...not as healthy for the organization."

Strock becomes
51st Corps Chief

The 55-year-old Strock has been the Corps' director of civil works since 2003, but also spent seven months last year in Iraq as deputy director of operations for the Coalition Provisional Authority. The Senate confirmed Strock on June 24 as the Corps' commander and chief of engineers. He will become a lieutenant general in 30 days, as federal regulations require, a Corps official says.

Strock faces many challenges in his new position, including overseeing the Corps' continued role in rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure under dangerous conditions, and managing the multi-billion-dollar civil works effort during a time when the federal budget is tight and environmental groups continue to criticize Corps activities.
Woodley said that as Strock takes over, "the points of continuity will be more evident than the points of departure" from Flowers.

Flowers expected to take private-sector job.

In his remarks, Schoomaker praised Flowers as "a leader whose love of soldiers is legendary," and also cited the "permission cards" he gave to all Corps workers. The "Do It" cards told staffers that if something was good for customers, legal and ethical and something for which they were willing to be accountable, they should "Just Do It!"--and not ask a superior's permission.

Corps employees were supposed to carry the cards with them, or face a penalty. In his speech, Strock confessed that he didn't have his Do It card, and then after he finished speaking, paid the price---10 push-ups in full dress uniform--in front of Flowers.

(Photo top courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, F.T. Eyre; photo middle and below courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)