New Chief of Engineers
by Scott L. Shapiro
President Obama has signed and forwarded to the Senate the nomination of Major General Todd Semonite to be the 54th Chief of Engineers. The nomination will shortly appear on the Senate’s website. The hope is that MG Semonite will be confirmed before Lieutenant General Tom Bostick (the 53rd Chief of Engineers) plans to leave the position in May.
MG Semonite is currently the Deputy Commanding General, Combined Security Transition Command in Afghanistan supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Prior to that he was the Deputy Commanding General for the United States Army Corps of Engineers. MG Semonite obtained his B.S. from the United States Military Academy and then his M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Vermont. He also has an M.A. in Military Science from the United States Army Command and General Staff College.
Lieutenant General Todd T. Semonite assumed his position as Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on May 19, 2016. As the Chief of Engineers, an Army Staff Principal, he advises the Army on engineering matters and serves as the Army's topographer and the proponent for real estate and other related engineering programs. As the USACE Commanding General, he is responsible for more than 32,000 Civilian employees and 700 Military personnel who provide project management, construction support and engineering expertise in more than 110 countries around the world.
Previous to this assignment, Lieutenant General Semonite established the Army Talent Management Task Force and served as its first Director. In this role, Lieutenant General Semonite was responsible for reforming the way the Army acquires, develops, employs, and retains a talented workforce. Prior to these duties, Lieutenant General Semonite was the Commanding General for Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, responsible for the building of the Afghan Army and Police through management of a $13 billion budget to support a 352,000 individual force. During his tenure, the mission focused on sustainment of that force and training, advising and assisting the Security Ministries towards establishing an enduring culture of fiscal discipline, transparency and accountability, while continuing to fight and win against a significant enemy threat.
Previous to that command, Lieutenant General Semonite served as the Deputy Chief of Engineers and the Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Lieutenant General Semonite has also served as Commanding General, South Atlantic Division, responsible for the oversight of planning, design and construction projects to support the U.S. Military, protect America’s water resources, and provide USACE support to U.S. Southern Command. The South Atlantic Division provides engineering and construction services from Alabama to North Carolina, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Prior to assuming Command of the South Atlantic Division, Lieutenant General Semonite was the Commander of the USACE’s North Atlantic Division in New York City serving the states from Virginia to Maine as well as the U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command Areas of Responsibility. He also served as Commanding General, Maneuver Support Center and Fort Leonard Wood and as Assistant Commandant, U.S. Army Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Additionally, he served in a wide variety of command and staff positions including: Director, Office of the Chief of Engineers, Headquarters, Department of the Army at the Pentagon; Deputy Commander, Task Force Restore Iraqi Electricity and Executive Officer to the Commanding General, U.S. Army Europe (USAEUR) and 7th Army.
Lieutenant General Semonite served as Commander of the 130th Engineer Brigade and the V Corps Engineer, Hanau, Germany; Chief of Military Operations and Topography and Chief of International Operations, both with USAEUR; Battalion Commander, 23rd Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Division, Friedberg, Germany (with a one-year deployment to Bosnia); Construction and Design Supervisor, 416th Engineer Command, Chicago, Illinois; Staff Officer for Logistics (S4), 937th Engineer Group and Staff Officer for Operations (S3) and Executive Officer, 1st Engineer Battalion, both at Fort Riley, Kansas; and Operations Officer, U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers Office, Fort Drum, NY.
Lieutenant General Semonite, a native of Bellows Falls, Vermont is a registered professional engineer in Virginia and Vermont. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point in New York and was commissioned into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1979. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the U.S. Military Academy, a Master of Science in Civil Engineering degree from the University of Vermont, and a Masters of Military Arts and Sciences from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He is a graduate of the Engineer Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the Combined Arms Services Staff School, the Command and General Staff College, and the Army War College.
Lieutenant General Semonite’s awards include the Distinguished Service Medal (2 Awards), Defense Superior Service Award, Legion of Merit (5 Awards), Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal (7 Awards), Army Commendation Medal (3 Awards), Army Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Citation, Army Superior Unit Award (2 Awards), NATO award, Ranger tab and Parachutist Badge.
Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan welcomes new commander
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Maj. Gen. Todd T. Semonite passed on the unit colors to Maj. Gen. Gordon 'Skip' Davis Jr. at the Combined Security Transition Command–Afghanistan change of command at Resolute Support Headquarters, Oct. 1.
Semonite concluded a 13-month tour that Gen. John F. Campbell, commander, Resolute Support, said was marked with many achievements.
“Todd is known for a lot of things, especially his passion, high energy level and deep thinking,” said Campbell. “He is especially focused on his “Top 10” initiatives. These initiatives span a wide range of functions and involve developments within doctrine, organizations, training, materiel, personnel and facilities for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. However, none of it is possible without his outstanding leadership underpinning it all.”
Campbell went on to highlight key programs Semonite and his team worked on in the past year, including development of an electronic pay system, a redesigned national procurement policy and Afghan airfield economic development, an initiative which can bolster security while boosting economic development. Campbell also noted Semonite’s role in developing and preparing for the transition to the Defense Security Cooperation Mission–Afghanistan, the U.S. headquarters successor following the completion of the Resolute Support Mission.
During Semonite’s remarks, the outgoing commander thanked Campbell for the opportunity to serve under his command.
“Your personal leadership and commitment to both the International Security Assistance Force and Resolute Support staffs, as well as the people of Afghanistan, is truly amazing. I speak for all the coalition when I say that no one could have led us better,” said Semomite.
Semonite also thanked his Afghan colleagues in attendance, including Minister of Interior Noorulhaq Uloomi and Deputy Minister of Security Gen. Mohammad Ayub Salangi, for their partnership.
“I cherished my time with you and was excited to lead CSTC-A [in order to] to help you support the warfighter and build strategic capacity,” said Semonite. “You have made phenomenal progress in budgetary programming, pay, personnel and force structure systems...improving accountability while finding savings in the budget.”
Semonite noted that despite threats to Afghanistan that challenge security, the country is well-postured for continued stability and long-term sustainability.
“Today I am just glad I had a small role in helping set the conditions for your success, and look forward to working ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with you again soon,” he said.
Semonite thanked his team of international service members, civilians and contractors for their work supporting the Afghan Ministries of Interior and Defense.
“I have tried to instill the ethic from [Afghan] President Ghani shortly after I took command over a year ago that CSTC-A and the Resolute Support team’s legacy will not be guns and ammo, but systems and processes. You have internalized that ethic and our Afghan partners are a better force because of it,” said Semonite.
He told his team that he knew they were in good hands with Davis, a 34-year U.S. Army veteran, who was most recently assigned to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe as Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations and Intelligence.
Davis thanked Campbell for his trust and confidence to lead CSTC-A. He recognized his predecessor for a smooth transition of a “high-performing, mission-focused and values-based team.” He stressed his enthusiasm to returning to Afghanistan to lead CSTC-A.
“I am thrilled to be joining the NATO-led Resolute Support and CSTC-A teams, and to be working again with Afghan Army and Police leaders at such a critical time for this nation.”
Davis expressed his commitment to the mission and Afghanistan, first in Dari, then in English.
“I will be your strongest supporter, but I will be demanding, and I will challenge you,” said Davis. “I believe in this country. I believe in the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. And I believe in your success.”
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