U.S. Army Corps' Northwest District gets new commander

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PORTLAND — A new commander has taken charge of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Northwestern Division, which includes the Walla Walla District.

Col. John S. Kem assumed command Monday of the five districts in the Northwestern Division office. He succeeds Brigadier Gen. Anthony C. Funkhouser, who has served as commander since July 2012.

Kem will direct a 4,800-member workforce involved in civil works, military construction and environmental restoration in 14 states throughout the Missouri and Columbia River basins. Along with the Walla Walla District, the division includes the operating districts in Portland, Seattle, Kansas City, Mo., and Omaha, Neb.

Kem previously served as the chief of the Programs Division in the Office of the Chief of Legislative Liaison for the U.S. Army. In addition to numerous stateside and overseas combat and operations assignments, he served as commander of the 16th Armored Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Division and commander of the Corps’ Europe District, where he was responsible for construction and engineering support for the U.S. Army’s European and African commands.

He was deployed to Afghanistan as director of engineering for the NATO Training Mission and oversaw a $10.5 billion program to build facilities for the Afghan national army and police.

Kem was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers after graduating in 1985 as a distinguished cadet from the U.S. Military Academy with a bachelor of science civil engineering. He holds an master’s degree from Kellogg Business School and Master of Science degree in environmental engineering from Northwestern University. He is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Virginia and a chartered financial analyst.

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