When Col. Anthony Funkhouser took command of the Army Corps of
Engineers Tulsa District, his team faced immediate challenges
managing unusually heavy flooding across Kansas and Oklahoma.
But the $34.5 million needed to repair parks and waterways from
those 2007 downpours paled before the $100 million-plus in
backlogged maintenance needs confronting his department along the
McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System.
In his three years at Tulsa, the last spent also as commander of
the entire ACOE Southwest Division, Funkhouser and his engineers
patched many of these ailments - much of that over the last year,
fueled by President Barack Obama's stimulus package.
"You can see much of that right now, as you travel around to
those projects, and I think many folks are enjoying them as we
speak," said Funkhouser, who on Friday will step down as commander
of the Tulsa District. He will be replaced by Col. Michael J.
Teague, formerly the U.S. Third Army central engineer responsible
for Army construction throughout the Middle East and central Asia.
The Tulsa District has handled more than $430 million in project
and service contracts this fiscal year ending Sept. 30, more than
twice its annual average. That includes $1.3 billion in contract
capacity through base Civil Works and Military programs, Base
Realignment and Closure (BRAC) activity, two congressional
supplemental funding measures and the American Reinvestment and
With more than $120 million in civil project funds, that allowed
the Corps of Engineers to address not only McClellan-Kerr critical
needs, but many of the damaged parks. That leaves the Tulsa District
with only a $40 million civil backlog, most of that among state and
federal recreational areas.
"The way we were able to do it was we actually had consolidated a
prioritized list of maintenance requirements," Funkhouser said
Wednesday. "As the money came in, we were able to work down that
"Our legacy as an organization is that we've been able to
recapitalize our projects," he said. "It was an incredible year that
we will never see again in our lifetime."
Funkhouser enjoyed similar success with the Dallas-based
"It was a privilege and honor to be asked to do that particular
job," he said, noting divisional posts usually went to general
officers. "It was supposed to be only a couple of months, but I've
ended up doing it almost a year by the time."
Overseeing four districts ranging from Texas to Arkansas, Kansas
and parts of New Mexico and Louisiana, Funkhouser commanded a budget
topping $4 billion. Corps efforts ranged from building three
hospitals simultaneously to Galveston waterway developments and a
number of civil projects.
"I think we've done very, very well," he said. "We've got a lot
of guidance on executing the recovery act to get the money and re-
energize the economy. Of all the eight divisions associated with the
Corps, the Southwestern Division will be first division to have all
of its recovery act contracts awarded by July. That's a source of
pride for me, to get all that money back out into the economy."
Once he completes his Southwestern Divisional post in July,
Funkhouser will take command of an Army Corps of Engineers district
in Afghanistan. From past deployments in Iraq and Kuwait, Funkhouser
understands better than most the challenges of working in a Middle
East war zone.
The one-year tour in Afghanistan will involve a mixture of civil
and military construction projects. Not only will Funkhouser's team
build airfields and operating bases, both for the U.S. Army and
Afghani military and police, but the Corps of Engineers will provide
road repairs, water infrastructure improvements, dam construction,
and potential electrical distribution system upgrades.
This parallels his past experiences. …