Feb. 22, 2010-Remarks from promotion ceremony of LTG William N. Phillips
April 7, 2010
Well, it is great to see everybody here, and we're all gathered here today to promote the pride of Bell Buckle, Tennessee. By the looks of the size of the crowd here, Bell Buckle is closed today..... I want to welcome your family, but I'm going to leave the rest of the introductions to you. Here in the front row I recognize Dr. Joseph Westphal, Dean Popps, Ann Dunwoody, Tom Schwartz, and Kevin Byrnes. It's wonderful to see you all again and the rest of the members of the staff.
This is a great day for the Army and a great day for the Acquisition Community because we are putting one of our own-one of our own Acquisition Officers-to serve as the Military Deputy and Director of the Army Acquisition Corps. I am going to take just a couple of seconds to say some words about our Acquisition Corps because it's been clearer and clearer to me in the months that I've been the Chief of Staff, that for the good and the long-term health of this Army, it is absolutely essential for a professional committed corps of Acquisition Officers-absolutely critical. And, as I was preparing for this, I looked into the scope of what our acquisition community is and does. And it's striking. There are 1,600 officers and 40,000 civilians all working on behalf of our Soldiers every day. The scope of what they have done since 2004-as we have transformed this Army-has been huge. And the fact that they have done it with well-intentioned, but arcane processes and procedures speaks even more highly of what they have accomplished.
Now, as is our want, we take it to the next level and continue to adapt and change the processes and procedures because we are going to be committed-as an Army-for at least another decade. Our soldiers deserve the best equipment as quickly as we can get it in their hands, at the best value to the taxpayer. And that's what [LTG] Bill Phillips will be charged to do with the Acquisition Community. I personally have taken great interest in the acquisition community in making sure that we have the right leaders and the right numbers of leaders. So, in addition to working with the Secretary [of the Army] to personally select [LTG] Bill Phillips, you should know that in the last three Brigadier General boards, we have selected twelve Acquisition Officers. And in the last three Major General boards, we have selected seven Acquisition Officers. Remember what I said: I firmly believe that a professional, committed Acquisition Corps is absolutely imperative to the long-term health of this organization.
Now, some of you are asking yourselves, how did [LTG] Bill [Phillips] get here' I was actually asked to talk about this, and as the Secretary and I discussed it, we said what we are looking for in someone for this position. We knew we wanted a team builder. We knew we someone who could bring together the diverse organization through a common cause. We needed somebody who is smart because the issues are only getting harder. They're only getting more complex. We needed someone who was meticulous who would pay attention to details as part of the recipe for success. We needed someone who was experienced...who had been out there, in the field and had done our acquisition contracting job. We needed someone who was broad... broader than just the Acquisition community. And we needed someone who was resourceful.
Now, you're probably asking yourself, well how'd you pick him' [LAUGHTER] Actually, I was amazed that [LTG] Bill [Phillips] had been preparing for this job his entire life, and he probably didn't even know it. So we knew he graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in Animal Science. Now, I specifically saw that and realized that, you know, since we slop a lot of hogs and kiss a lot of frogs around here... [LAUGHTER]
He was commissioned an Artillery Officer. And, shortly after coming in the Army, he decided he wanted to be an Army Aviator. Now, we were looking for someone meticulous, and for those of you who aren't familiar with the cultures of the Artillery and the Aviation Branches, we'll say... sometimes it even goes beyond meticulous to anal. [LAUGHTER] But, Bill brings those skills with him. I said we wanted a team builder. The reputation he established as a Colonel-probably working for you, [GEN] Kevin [Byrnes]-was one who could pull together projects of enormous size. That is a huge accomplishment.
I said we wanted someone who was broad. Early in his career, Bill was smart enough to get out into industry... out with McDonnell Douglas. We were going to try and establish that for all Acquisition Officers-a chance for them to get out there and see something different and try something different. He's got three Master's degrees: one in personnel, one in procurement and contracting, and one in national resources strategy. Seems to me that that lines pretty well up with what he's got to do and it says a lot about his timing.
And we wanted someone who was experienced. And he's had a wide variety of jobs, both in contracting and in acquisitions all across the Army. His most recent job was as the head of the Joint Contracting Command in Iraq and Afghanistan. They used to work for me in Iraq, and I know, it is one of the toughest jobs in the Army. And so we sent him out there as a one-star. He came back with two stars. He hasn't even been a two-star for twenty minutes, and now he's a three star. [LAUGHTER]
Now, we made him a three-star because he is resourceful and a visionary. And, I'm going to show you a quick video. You didn't know this was a multimedia promotion ceremony, did you' But, I am going to show you a quick video, and for months I've been going around showing this to people as an example of how we have to think fundamentally differently about the problems that face us in the Army today. And I was telling them that [LTG] Bill [Phillips] made that video, and only today did I find out that he was resourceful enough to convince me that he really did. Watch this with me because I think it speaks highly of the type of mindset that [LTG] Bill [Phillips] brings to this job.
[THE HMMWV ENGINE CHANGE VIDEO PLAYS ON THE SCREEN]
Now, you're probably wondering what the heck was that all about' We sent our teams out to solve the problem of why it took eight hours to change an engine. The moral of the story is: they thought about the problem fundamentally differently, and they solved it in a fundamentally different way. And that is what [LTG] Bill [Phillips] brings to this job. He also brings with him passion-passion to serve this organization. And I asked him what made him decide to go into the Acquisition Corps. He said back in 1998, he was assigned as a Modernization Officer in Aviation...assigned as additional duty. But he got so enthralled by the power of the new capabilities and helping the Soldiers and what that gave them... that he felt a passion for it. And, that passion has served him well and his passion will serve us all as we go forth here over the next couple of years.