Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh retired from the Corps of Engineers on November 30 2013. He was the Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations providing executive leadership and strategic direction to Corps divisions and districts in their civil works missions.
MG Walsh held the position since December 2011. Prior to that he was assigned to the Mississippi Valley Division Gulf Region Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom South Atlantic Division Sacramento District and San Francisco District.
Walsh joined the Army on June 6 1977 with a direct commission through the ROTC program at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University in Brooklyn New York.
“I thought that military service would be a good way to adapt my skills and education in engineering” Walsh said. “I also thought it would be a good way to develop leadership skills learning to command platoons and companies. I thought I would stay four or five years command an engineer company and then leave the Army.
“But I’ve been doing this for 36 years” Gen. Walsh said. “I decided to stay because I enjoyed serving with great people on challenging missions in diverse locations.”
He is leaving the Army but not retiring. “I’ll transition out of the military and go do something else” he said. “I’m going to do another job where I can build upon my knowledge of water resources and water resource management.
“The water resources of our nation are still immature and we need to continue working on them. I’ve been doing that in the Army for 20 years but at a certain point you need to go do something else. So I’m not retiring I’m transitioning to something else. I’ve got another 20 or 25 years left in me to continue working with water resources.”
Walsh’s parting messages for his colleagues recalled the Corps’ motto “Essayons.”
“In the next 10 years a lot of water issues are going to become acute” Gen. Walsh said. “The water wars between Florida and Georgia and Alabama. The water issues between Northern California and Southern California. The dams on the Upper Missouri River. The droughts in the Southwest. As our nation tries to address those there is only one federal agency that plans engineers and builds water resource projects. In another 10 years our nation will turn to USACE and ask ‘How do we address these water problems?’”
Walsh’s second parting message stems from an incident during his time in Iraq. While there Walsh mentioned to a French-speaking ambassador the motto.
“Do you know what that means?” asked the ambassador. “It’s French for ‘Well give us a shot at it. We’ll try.’”
“No sir that’s French” Walsh replied. “‘Essayons” is an American Army term. It means ‘Let us try.’ When others have failed let us try. When others don’t know what to do let us try. When the mission must be accomplished ‘Essayons!’