CG reflects on first 100 days in command
September 29, 2010
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Business executives and political leaders often use the first 100 days in a new job to assess their situation and to determine the way ahead.
Maj. Gen. James Milano, who assumed command of Fort Jackson June 16, 100 days ago last Friday, admitted that he was not sure what to expect from his new assignment.
"I've been really impressed with everything going on here. It's been an eye-opening three months for me," Milano said. "I can't wait to get out of my house to come over here every day because I really enjoy what I do. I get a thrill, I get inspired, I get energized by seeing what we have going on ... . I'm grateful to have the opportunity to command Fort Jackson."
He said the two things that have struck him the most are the amount of different training activities going on at any given time and the high level of talent among the installation's staff and leadership.
"I think a good example of that - of the talent we have here - is just how well the Kid Rock concert went," Milano said in reference to the Sept. 11 show on Hilton Field. "A lot of work went on behind the scenes, from the security plan to the traffic control to how we advertised it, to how we got people in and out ... ."
Milano also cited the concert as an example of teamwork from different organizations across post. Although as the senior mission commander on Fort Jackson, Milano mostly oversees Basic Combat Training operations, he acknowledges the importance of other units and organizations, which he refers to as partners in excellence.
"I don't like the word, 'tenants,'" Milano explained. "I have the responsibility to make sure that (our partners in excellence) have what they need to do their jobs, too, and that we've established not only an installation that has the best quality of life we can deliver, but also that good order and discipline exist here and that they can do their job effectively."
Post Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Stall said he shares Milano's idea of partnership and added that showing support to other organizations is a must.
"If you're going to work out of this headquarters (building) you have to do it," Stall said. "Because if you don't, you're sending the message that you really don't care, and that message can't be sent."
STANDARDS AND DISCIPLINE
One message Milano has been sending throughout the community since his arrival is his expectation of everyone to adhere to the Army's standards and practice good discipline. He said Fort Jackson's training mission makes it especially important to instill these values in new Soldiers.
"We have got to be well within the Army standards," Milano said. "And the great thing about the Army is, (it has) established a standard for (almost) everything. So it's not hard to know what the standard is.
"And I don't want people to stand on the fringe of just inside of what the Army says. I want them well within it. I want people to be exemplars of standards and Army values, so that all these new Soldiers here ... have no misunderstanding whatsoever of what right looks like. None."
Milano explained that proper discipline is the tool to achieve those standards.
"To be a standard-based organization you have to have discipline," he said. "You have to do the harder right versus the easier wrong, and you have to adhere to standards unsupervised or not, on or off duty."
Stall said he and Milano have been spreading that message to the Soldiers on post during their semi-weekly visits to observe training. Observing BCT here has also solidified his view of noncommissioned officers, Milano said.
"I've relied on noncommissioned officers my whole career," he said. "I have great appreciation for our NCO corps and how hard (NCOs) work and how dedicated they are, but you come to a place like this, and you see what the drill sergeants do each and every day and the impact they're making on all these Soldiers - I have a, not newfound, but a greater appreciation for what noncommissioned officers do for the Army. It's unbelievable. They really are the backbone of the Army."
Milano said that although training visits are important to him, he sees the main focus of his job elsewhere.
"I would love nothing more than to be on rifle ranges, grenade ranges every day. That's fun," Milano said. "But that's not what I get paid to do. I have all kinds of great leadership at company, battalion, brigade level to do that. I do it as much as I can, but I see my job No. 1 to acquire the resources to make sure that my subordinate commanders have what they need to do their job. And No. 2 (to) set them up for success, to make sure that the staff here at the installation level and my staff are not overtasking them; that we're focused on what's important and so forth."
One topic that Milano said is important to both him and his wife, Kim, is the success of family readiness groups on TRADOC installations like Fort Jackson.
"I personally think FRGs in this kind of environment work a little bit better if they're managed at the battalion level," Milano said. "To my wife, Kim, and I, FRGs are the most effective way to get information out to spouses."
Milano also recently introduced his vision for Fort Jackson. He said that by the time he relinquishes command he wants Fort Jackson "to be a place that's No. 1 on (Soldiers') assignment preference sheets because we have a reputation for doing our mission exceedingly well and for over-the-top quality of life."
He explained that he has two specific goals to reach that level.
"I want Fort Jackson to be known as a premier, standards-based, disciplined organization that really does what it's supposed to do well," Milano said. "And then I want (Fort Jackson) to be an Army Community of Excellence award winner. Why am I doing that' So I can take credit for that' No. .... We do a lot of things well here, and I think we should get recognized for it, which is why I compete for that."