The Army has announced a group of promotions, including changes in senior positions at the Corps of Engineers.
Among 77 new assignments that the Army announced in late March is the appointment of Maj. Gen. David C. Hill to be the Army’s deputy chief of engineers and deputy commanding general, the No. 2 position at the Corps. Hill has been U.S. Army Central deputy commanding general since June 2018.
Earlier in his career, Hill commanded the Corps Transatlantic and Southwestern divisions.
He will succeed Maj. Gen. Robert F. Whittle Jr., who since March has been serving as Corps deputy commanding general in a temporary capacity, after the retirement of Maj. Gen. Richard G. Kaiser.
Whittle also has been serving as commander of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Div., a position he has held since July 2019.
Whittle is expected to continue leading the Great Lakes and Ohio River Div. after Hill is in place in his new post at Corps headquarters.
Maj. Gen. William H. Graham Jr. was named the Corps’ deputy commanding general for civil and emergency operations and will oversee all Corps civil works activity and responses to storms and other natural disasters.
Graham has been deputy commanding general for I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.
He will replace Maj. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, who has been nominated to be the next Army Chief of Engineers and Corps commanding general. Spellmon is awaiting a Senate confirmation hearing.
Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite’s term as Chief of Engineers and Corps commander is scheduled to end on May 19. Semonite has had a prominent role in the Corps' missions to convert existing buildings into hospital space to help provide patient care during the coronavirus pandemic.
Previously, Graham commanded the Corps’ North Atlantic Div. , based in New York City, from March 2015 to July 2018.
Three Corps divisions also are getting new leaders. Among them is Brig. Gen. Kimberly M. Colloton, who becomes commander of the Corps’ Transatlantic Division, based in Winchester, Va. Since July 2018, Colloton had led the South Pacific Div., headquartered in San Francisco.
Succeeding her at the South Pacific Div. is Brig. Gen. Paul E. Owen, who now is commander of the Southwestern Div., based in Dallas.
Owen’s successor at the Southwestern Div. is Col. Christopher G. Beck, who has been the Transatlantic Div. commander since June 2019.
John Doyle, special counsel at law and lobbying firm Jones Walker LLP, expects that, besides the shifts at Corps headquarters, there will be further changes among commanders' positions at other Corps divisions and districts in the weeks and months to come.
Doyle, a former top Army civil works official, says that as this large group of new leaders begin to make decisions about the Corps civil works and other programs, it's unclear what path they will take. He asks, "Will they, on the one hand, just pick up and continue the practices of their predecessors or, on the other hand, will they bring a new set of eyes and judgments to big questions that have been under consideration at the Corps?"