Army Aviation Sees Change In Leadership
February 5, 2014
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- The Army celebrated the careers of two of its aviation officers Jan. 24 with the retirement of Redstone Arsenal's senior aviator and the promotion of a 26-year career officer into the general ranks.
The 650-capacity Bob Jones Auditorium was packed by the Team Redstone community in the morning as then Col. Bob Marion was promoted to brigadier general with the help of his wife Lisa, their four children and several other family members. Marion is well-known at Redstone for his leadership within the offices of the Program Executive Office for Aviation. Among his different assignments there, he most recently served as the project manager for Cargo Helicopters before leaving in May 2013 to take on an assignment as the assistant deputy for acquisition and system management in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology.
In the afternoon, the auditorium was packed again for a change of charter ceremony and a retirement ceremony as Brig. Gen. Bob Marion took over as the new program executive officer for aviation and Maj. Gen. Tim Crosby retired after a 34-year Army career.
During Marion's promotion ceremony, Heidi Shyu, the assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology said ceremonies are part of the Army tradition.
In the Army's 238-year history, "multiple generations of dedicated men and women have risen through the ranks of Army service," Shyu said. "Promotion ceremonies are a particularly important part of that tradition because they provide an opportunity to recognize one's achievements and promise for the future in front of family, friends and fellow servicemembers.
"I am proud to be part of that tradition today -- as we all are -- in honoring Bob's service. It is important to note that this year, 2014, marks the 51st consecutive year there has been a Marion on active duty in the Army. Bob's dad joined in 1963, both of his brothers served on active duty and, now, the trend continues with Bob's promotion and potential for several more years on active duty."
Shyu recognized Marion's family members, including his wife Lisa, their four children, and Marion's parents and brothers, saying "I always like to emphasize that in the Army, our strength is our families -- they make us Army Strong. You have a real stake, an ownership in what we are celebrating today, the promotion of Bob Marion to the ranks of general officer in the United States Army."
Marion, Shyu said, is much like President Dwight Eisenhower, a historical figure that the aviator officer has long respected and appreciated.
"He admires that Eisenhower was a humble leader who didn't need to take credit for his accomplishments. He admires that Eisenhower cared about getting the job done, finding common ground, taking responsibility when things didn't go as planned, and always giving credit to his subordinates. He admires the selfless service of Eisenhower and the fact that he embodied our Army core values," Shyu said.
"Bob Marion has taken these admirable traits of President Eisenhower and made them his own as he moved through the Army ranks. These traits have contributed to his success and will continue to define him as he assumes increasing levels of leadership."
In his most recent assignment at the Pentagon, Marion worked for Shyu, taking on the challenges of leading the Red Team Study of the Long-Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle Program and was a key member of the Optimization Study team, which was designed to find the best balance of missions and personnel for the materiel enterprise.
Other career highlights have included serving as assistant project manager for Black Hawk production and fielding, establishing the product manager's office for Black Hawk modernization, participating in the Army's Training with Industry program for the Theater High Altitude Air Defense Program at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Huntsville, serving as joint commander at the Defense Contract Management Agency-Boeing in Mesa, Ariz., where his primary mission was contract management and production of the AH-64D Longbow Apache, deploying to Operations Iraqi Freedom/Enduring Freedom as the forward representative for ASA(ALT) working contracting and procurement-related issues, and serving as the project manager for Cargo Helicopters at PEO Aviation.
"Bob's achievements are exemplary by any measure. But we do not promote on prior accomplishments, we promote for future potential as a leader in America's Army," Shyu said. "As Bob continues to lead some of the finest men and women in the military and in our great acquisition workforce, he will take on an even greater role in meeting the equipping needs of our Soldiers. I know he will do well. He has all the qualities of a great leader -- in the style of President Eisenhower -- self-confidence, integrity, an extraordinary work ethic and humility."
Marion thanked his family, friends and mentors who attended his promotion ceremony, saying "this is about all of you, all my family and friends, all our partners in industry, all of our partners across this post and in the Pentagon, all of us pulling together and getting things done."
That team also includes the employees of PEO Aviation, a fact that was emphasized throughout Marion's promotion ceremony and then again during the change of charter and retirement ceremony for Crosby.
"You have been meeting our war fighters' urgent needs around the world 24/7," Shyu said. "You labor long hours with a dedication to duty that comes only with knowing that your program, your project, the technology that you provide enables the latest capabilities to our aviators, it helps us to provide air dominance, and most importantly, it helps us to save lives. You provide the aviation capability that the rest of the world wants."
She said the employees of PEO Aviation have "done an absolutely superb job strengthening the inseparable link and solidifying the trust between Army aviation and the ground forces they support."
Crosby has led that effort for more than five years and was the deputy program executive officer prior to becoming its lead executive in December 2008. He led a workforce of more than 3,000 civilian, military and contract personnel, providing overall direction to eight project offices, which include: Apache Attack Helicopters; Unmanned Aircraft Systems; Utility Helicopters; Fixed Wing Aircraft; Cargo Helicopters; Aviation Systems, Armed Scout Helicopters and Non-Standard Rotary Wing Aircraft. These project offices are responsible for life cycle management of all Army aviation product lines and weapon systems.
During the last fiscal year alone, Crosby was responsible for effectively balancing requirements while executing an annual aviation budget of more than $7.5 billion.
But more than anything, Crosby is known for the passion he has for Soldiers, and how he has used that passion to improve conditions for the Soldier on the battlefield, Shyu said.
"Tim has been described as a Soldier's Soldier, unparalleled in his passion for championing Army aviation and the Soldier in every decision. His mantra is 'focus on relieving the burden on the Soldier,'" she said.
Crosby is a combat veteran, dual-rated master aviator, and the only remaining active duty aviator who has flown all the Chinook models in the Army, from A to F. He was a pioneer of Soldier Focused Logistics, which evolved into what is now known as Life Cycle Management.
During his time at PEO Aviation, two additional project offices were stood up during his leadership of PEO Aviation, one for Fixed Wing and the other for Non-Standard Rotary Wing Aircraft; and the PEO was recognized by senior Army leaders as having the best and most well-managed portfolio, and the best coordinated PEO from science and technology to program development to sustainment.
"It all boils down to having great people. … Our civilians have a passion for giving something back, for being selfless for our Soldiers," Crosby said.
"I was just a barking dog. What it boils down to is having great people who care about Soldiers. … You find the way forward. It's people like you who share a passion. My job was defending the passion of my people."
Crosby oversaw Army aviation requirements during a time of increased demand for aviation assets in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the establishment of Army aviation as the critical enabler on the battlefield. During his tenure, the Army fielded roughly 1,070 rotary wing aircraft and 3,070 unmanned aircraft systems across the services. Crosby championed acquisition streamlining and reform; recognized the need to build acquisition strategies that had the ability to upgrade as technology progressed; and led his large, complex portfolio and team with both discipline, and a great spirit and humor, Shyu said.
"There is no question in my mind that his contributions will shape Army aviation's dominance for decades to come," Shyu said. "Army aviation is his passion. Tim wants to continue contributing to Army aviation and supporting Soldiers for as long as he lives. … Tim Crosby spent a lifetime leading by example. His service has been truly extraordinary. His legacy is lasting."
As the new PEO for aviation, Shyu said Marion will build on that legacy of accomplishments.
"His mission is to maintain a total Army perspective while managing all systems assigned to him -- rotary and fixed wing, unmanned aircraft systems and other key systems," she said.
"He must develop, acquire, test, integrate and field programs while managing and balancing cost, schedule, performance and risk, ensuring that Army aviation continues to be the best in the world … balancing all of that in a fiscally challenging environment. … He is an excellent choice to lead this program executive office and build on its achievements."
While Marion admitted he is not the outspoken leader that Crosby is known to be, he will bring the same level of passion to his new assignment as his predecessor.
"PEO Aviation has such a proud reputation for serving Soldiers, and we will continue with that tradition," he said. "General Crosby has so embodied and established that as our culture. I do promise to bring the same passion and commitment to serving Soldiers as General Crosby did. … You can count on this organization because the culture he established will continue."