'First in Support' CG hosts town hall, discusses cutbacks, mission, future
August 23, 2013
RHEINLAND-PFALZ, Germany- Maj. Gen. John R. O'Connor, the commanding general of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, hosted a town hall for Department of the Army Civilians and local national employees at the Galaxy Theater on Vogelweh Military Complex Aug. 21.
O'Connor began the briefing with an introduction and explanation of his personal command philosophy. He detailed his command history, family life, education, "pet peeves," personal values and leadership style. The general emphasized throughout that it is important that those working with him understand his background and expectations.
"When you (the audience) look at where I come from, my family and my support network, know that we are all about giving back," O'Connor said. "This is my commitment to you- for the next two years I will be right here serving this great community, serving the 21st Theater Sustainment Command and serving you."
He then discussed the future of the 21st TSC and what will be required of the unit and its personnel in the future. He explained that the U.S. Army is changing, the resources available are changing and that unit missions will reflect these changes. He also explained how the 'First in Support' team will adapt its mission to aid both U.S. Army Europe and U.S. Africa Command.
"As the environment changes, how will I adapt to fight in the environment?" O'Connor asked his audience rhetorically. "How will I get all of my Soldiers where they need to go? How will I get their supplies there? We will set the theater by analyzing how to accomplish these goals."
Finally, O'Connor addressed the future of the military and its civilian workforce. He reiterated the fact that the Army will reduce its numbers, both soldiers and civilians, in the future. Throughout the brief, he noted that this is what the Department of the Army has directed in order to adapt to changes in the world and the U.S. He stressed it is "time to do what is right with less over doing more with less."
"Command implementation plans to cut workforce, transformation, hiring freezes, uncertainty, furloughs, sequestration... none of those sound good," O'Connor said. "But it is what the Department of Defense has said that we have to do based on resource constraints mandated by Congress."
He concluded the town hall by addressing issues raised by the civilian workforce and allowing the audience to question him. One of the largest issues addressed was the coming reduction and the possibility of layoffs.
"Fact- we are going to reduce DoD wide our headquarters and staffs by 20 percent. Is that going to be all military? No," O'Connor stated. "Is it going to involve civilians? Yes. They too will share in the challenge of transformation across United States Army Europe. How we will handle this directive is what we are working on now and I will get the best, sage advice before we make a decision."
Members of the audience who asked questions expressed their opinion of the town hall and their new commanding general after the town hall concluded.
"There were some tough questions today and I think the general is looking at each of these issues with the greatest detail he can," said Tom E. Mitchell, a training support specialist in the 21st TSC operations section and a native of Tucumcari, N.M. "I was very impressed by the general's leadership philosophy and I really enjoyed learning about who he is."