Meet the APG Garrison commander
October 21, 2009
Colonel Orlando W. Ortiz assumed command of the Aberdeen Proving Ground Garrison July 11. Since then he has been on the go familiarizing himself with the installation's 70 tenant organizations, overseeing the ongoing transformation under the vision of APG 2012 and the base realignment and closure, meeting with politicians, business representatives, educators and other stakeholders, all while tending to the everyday responsibilities of the Garrison directorates.
"Looking beyond BRAC is where we need to dedicate our energies," Ortiz said. "BRAC is law, it must occur within the specific timeline - and it will. Under the previous Garrison leadership, a synchronized and detailed plan was established and a capable workforce executed extremely well."
The future beyond 2012, however, and the installation's ability to identify activities and services, fulfill those requirements and pursue meaningful initiatives to improve the installation remains his focus.
"This is a period of great opportunity," he said, noting that with the addition of corporate partnerships, community outreach and professional educational programs, APG is well on its way to becoming an Army Center of Excellence, not only for research, development, test and evaluation, but also for C4ISR [command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance].
"It's a wonderful time, and it's exciting," he said.
He added that military retirees and beneficiaries off the installation still will benefit despite the fact that there will be a reduced military presence on the installation.
"We will always take care of our Family," he said.
"Just about everyone, ranging from elected officials to community leaders, educators, law enforcement and other Department of Defense organizations are very interested in BRAC and concerned about what takes place on the installation," Ortiz said.
He credited Col. Andrew B. Nelson, commander of the Garrison Transformation Office, for his leadership in transformation planning.
"Colonel Nelson's folks are doing tremendous work," he said. "They've developed a good plan, and every project is within scope, specified timeline and budget."
Prior to his assignment to APG, Ortiz attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., and shortly after taking over at APG, he attended the Garrison Commander course at Fort Belvoir, Va.
He is a career intelligence officer who has served in light infantry, airborne, armor and special forces units. He said that this is his first experience working in a garrison.
"Although you learn something new in every capacity in which you serve, this is enlightening," he said. "I never served in a garrison, and I never realized the daily grind of managing these types of issues.
"Our directorates are working very well," he added. "They have proved themselves skilled, insightful in their recommendations and input as they also accomplish requirements and missions."
He said he has made it a point to visit as many of the Garrison-supported organizations as possible.
"Every week I incorporate a visit into my schedule," he said. "I haven't met them all but I've gone to a great many."
He said that he looks forward to seeing APG through the transformation and serving with Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney Rhoades, who assumed his position at the same time.
"In my mind, he's one of the Army's best," Ortiz said of Rhoades. "I like his energy, his approach and his insights. He's just a great team player who I'm proud to serve with.
"We think alike, even though we don't always agree," he added. "He's everything you'd expect from a command sergeant major. And our wives get along too."
A native of northern New Jersey whose wife is an Army nurse and Pennsylvania native, Ortiz said he and his Family are happy to be at APG.
"My Family likes the community, and we're not too far from home," he said. "We're happy to be here. Great people, great opportunities, what more can you ask for'"