Town hall at newest Army garrison, Kwajalein Atoll, addresses smart sustainment, improved readiness
October 9, 2013
Debra Zedalis, regional director of Installation Management Command-Pacific, visited U.S. Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll this week for the uncasing ceremony that officially transferred the garrison from U.S. Space and Missile Defense Command to IMCOM. Zedalis was accompanied by Command Sgt. Maj. Phillip D. Pandy, command sergeant major of IMCOM-P.
During their visit, they toured infrastructures and community facilities on both Kwajalein and Roi-Namur, and visited the host nation on Ebeye. They conducted a town hall meeting Wednesday in Corlette Recreation Center for active duty military, Department of the Army civilians and contractors.
The decision to transfer the garrison from SMDC to IMCOM comes from utilizing strengths. IMCOM's strength is running base operations, while SMDC's strength lies in the mission. Handing over base operations to IMCOM allows the senior commander to focus on the mission.
"I think the combination works incredibly well," Zedalis said. "IMCOM was designed to relieve commanders of the burden of having to focus on the garrison [as well as] the technical mission. That's what really works -- when we all maximize what we do well as one team; it improves the final product."
What's important, Zedalis pointed out, is that the senior commander of SMDC, Lt. Gen. David Mann, will remain the senior commander here at USAG-KA. "We have senior commanders throughout the Pacific for a really good reason. They are the person who represents all Soldiers and families that we serve."
Garrison Commander, Col. Nestor Sadler, working on behalf of Mann, represents the Army on Kwajalein and to the RMI. The RMI will be the third host nation to join the IMCOM-P ranks, following Japan and Korea.
Zedalis visited Ebeye on Wednesday. She was able to see firsthand the difference being made in the lives of host nation people, including employment and aid. "[Host Nation workers] enhance our capabilities, but really I think it's bigger than that," Zedalis commented.
She said we rarely remember the tasks that we perform, but we do remember the people whose lives we impact. "It's really about … people taking care of each other." That includes the Soldiers and families at each IMCOM-P installation, stressed Zedalis.
As an enterprise, IMCOM has a great military construction program, Zedalis commented. And with the current budget constraints, new infrastructure is not in the plans. The goal is to ascertain which assets require the most immediate attention, and concentrate on their repair and sustainment.
"In the Pacific, we have some challenging environments. … I think that's what we do extraordinarily well is trying to protect the tax payer's investment by smart sustainment, restoration and modernization," the director said.
On Kwajalein, priority repairs will be made at Echo Pier and the Bucholz Army Air Field. Fixing and upgrading the energy efficiency of roofs on housing is also a future plan, along with all-around corrosion control. IMCOM engineers will study the island infrastructure over the next few years to map out a long-term plan which will articulate the best choices for construction requirements. They are also working on what should be the vision for Kwajalein: what needs to be here, taken down or repurposed.
"When you have that, then you have a story to tell," Zedalis said. "You can say, 'This is where we are now, here's where we want to be, this is what it takes to get us there.'"
The power of the IMCOM enterprise is that all bases give so that all can receive. Even though one base doesn't take in as much money as another, the system is designed so they will still receive funding for their critical needs. It's important for the senior commander to identify and communicate what our specific base requirements and needs are.
At the town hall meeting, Pandy addressed the audience, remarking on how resilient people on Kwajalein are. "We're resilient, we understand our mission and we're doing the best we can." Pandy toured the Child Development Center facilities earlier that day and remarked how inspired he was by what he saw there. He told the audience, "Welcome to the [IMCOM] team, thank you for doing the important work that you're doing and you truly inspire me as being resilient folks."
Zedalis addressed concerns at the town hall. The first question was whether there will be a Morale, Welfare and Recreation presence on Kwajalein. "The answer is I don't know," she said. Now that the contract is extended through 2018, they need to look at what we need, how much we need and how things would be run.
Next, Zedalis talked about the five-year rule and how IMCOM handles requests. In IMCOM, three years plus two is a normal tour. Tours under five years can be approved by the commanding general. Anything over five years must be approved by Zedalis. She commented that if you want to be a leader, a variety of assignments work in your favor. "The more experience you have in a variety of places helps you understand a bit more … about what we do in the Army." The five-year rule is meant to keep you competitive in the job market.
The last question was directed to Pandy and asked what his vision was for the garrison sergeant major here at USAG-KA. "You really have to be a dynamic leader," he said. It's important to pull together technical experts to function as a team. Accountability is also an important function of a leader. "Be a good battle buddy."
Zedalis closed the town hall meeting by thanking everyone for the work they do; she is impressed. "Although you're under a new enterprise, I think this enterprise brings lots to your [mission]," she said. If there are further concerns or issues, bring them to the USAG-KA command team and they will raise them up.