President Barack Obama appointed Maj. Gen. John W. Peabody as President of the Mississippi River Commission on August 6, 2012. MRC appointments are nominated by the President of the United States and subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate. The Senate confirmed MG Peabody’s nomination August 2, 2012.
Peabody assumed command of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Mississippi Valley Division in November 2011, and led his first Mississippi River Commission inspection trip along the lower Mississippi River in March 2012.
As the commander and division engineer for the Mississippi Valley Division, Maj. Gen. Peabody directs all U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water resources development in the Mississippi River basin, an area of more than 370,000 square miles, including all or parts of 12 states.
He entered military service in 1980 upon commissioning as a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers, and has spent most of his career as a combat engineer, with operational deployments to Somalia, Kuwait and Iraq. He also served as the division engineer for the Corps’ Great Lakes and Ohio River Division before taking command of the Mississippi Valley Division.
General Peabody is a graduate of the United States Military Academy, the Command and General Staff College and the Army War College with a master's degree in strategic studies. He also received an M.P.A from Harvard University and studied as an Olmsted Scholar at El Colegio de Mexico, Mexico City.
His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with “V” device, Purple Heart, Joint Meritorious Service Medal, Army Meritorious Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, among others.
The Mississippi River Commission was created by an Act of Congress on June 28, 1879, to plan and provide for the general improvement of the entire length of the Mississippi River. This includes improving navigation, preventing destructive floods and facilitating commerce. The presidential appointees consist of three officers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a representative from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and three civilians, two of whom must be civil engineers.
The commission itself is an advisory body. Its general duties include recommending policy and work programs, studying and reporting on modifications or changes to the Mississippi River and Tributaries project, commenting on matters authorized by law, making inspection trips, and holding public hearings that facilitate exchanges of viewpoints and ideas between the public and the MRC. Since 1879 the commission has been “listening, inspecting and partnering” with water resource interests in a watershed that is influenced by the drainage of more than 41 percent of the United States and two provinces of Canada.