Col. Philip M. Secrist III assumed command of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Middle East District, in a ceremony at the Old Court House, Winchester, Va., on Thursday, Aug. 22.
Secrist succeeds Col. Stephen H. Bales, who became the Middle East District Commander Aug. 23, 2017. Bales has now been assigned as the Transatlantic Division Deputy Commander, collocated in Winchester.
Both commanders thanked their families for their support over the previous few years. Secrist was deployed to Iraq and Bales traveled to the Middle East frequently as part of his job. They both noted that without the full support of their wives and children back home, they would not have been as successful.
Secrist is new to the Middle East District but not to the Transatlantic Division. His previous assignment was Commander of the division’s Mosul Dam Task Force since June 3, 2018, where he led the management and execution of dam remediation efforts for Mosul Dam, Iraq, coordinated with senior representatives of the Government of Iraq, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Army Central Command, Operation Inherent Resolve Combined Joint Task Force, foreign ministries, intergovernmental agencies, and other key stakeholders and customers.
During his speech, Secrist mentioned his gratitude to the Transatlantic Division and Middle East district during his time as the Task Force Commander.
“I felt extremely supported while I was in the field. The reach back assistance I received assured me I was coming into a top notch professional organization,” he said.
In prior assignments, Secrist held a variety of command and staff assignments including commanding the Army Corps of Engineers Huntington District and Louisville districts.
He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers upon graduating from the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science is civil engineering from VMI, and masters’ degrees in Engineering Management from the University of Missouri-Science and Technology, Environmental Engineering from Virginia Tech, and in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.
Secrist’s awards and decoration include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star (two awards), the Meritorious Service Medal (five awards), the Army Commendation Medal (two awards), and the Army Achievement Medal (two awards).
The Middle East District is responsible for providing engineering, construction, and related services in the Middle East and Central Asia, and in other areas as required. Its work includes designing and constructing facilities for use by U.S. forces, performing engineering activities for other U.S. government and foreign agencies, and providing operations and maintenance services for various customers. In addition, the District provides project management, engineering, contracting and support services to the USACE district in Afghanistan.