Fort Drum recognized for best NEC in 7th Signal Command
September 30, 2010
Fort Drum's Network Enterprise Center has been recognized as the best large NEC of 7th Signal Command for proficiently operating, maintaining and defending the post's digital networks.
Officials with Fort Drum's NEC were invited to the annual LandWarNet conference Aug. 2 in Tampa, where they were presented with the 2010 NEC of the Year award, large NEC category, for 7th Signal Command.
It was a prestigious accomplishment for NEC staff, and achieved just weeks after winning the 2010 NEC of the Year award, large NEC category, for 93rd Signal Brigade.
"I haven't ever been that thrilled before," Fort Drum NEC Director Joanne L. Thornton said of receiving the award. "The dynamic in the room was very exciting. I didn't realize, until I stepped into that room, the (magnitude) of what it really was all about.
"It was definitely a proud moment for me," she added. "The only regret that I had was that everybody from the NEC here couldn't be sitting there to experience that moment. It was only a few minutes, but it was sweet."
Fort Drum's NEC staff consists of 75 civilian employees. The installation competed against 10 other installations in the continental U.S. for the command-level award. Fort Carson, their stiffest competition, took home NEC of the Year at the Network Enterprise Technology Command level (Armywide).
Formerly managed by the Installation Management Command and known as Directorates of Information Management, all NECs in the Eastern U.S. were taken over by 93rd Signal Brigade last October, while those in the West went to 106th Signal Brigade at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
The NEC of the Year large category is defined as 7,000 or more users. The mission of all NECs is to execute command, control, communications, computers and information management (C4IM).
Thornton said a top priority for Fort Drum's NEC is customer service. She said because the mission was tedious at times, with an ever-increasing operations tempo and the recent transition to 93rd Signal Brigade, it meant a lot to her personally to know that customer satisfaction did not suffer.
"I just think that it is an area that makes me most proud," Thornton said. "The world was spinning so fast, but we were able to still maintain that standard for the Soldiers and for those who support the Soldiers."
Keith Wiggins of Fort Drum NEC's chief service management division accompanied Thornton to the conference, as did NEC employees Charles Hamberger and Randy Sitterly.
Wiggins was not too surprised to learn the NEC staff here had helped make Fort Drum shine across the Army.
"It made me feel incredibly proud to be part of such a great team and to see them be recognized on such a large scale, among their peers, across all CONUS installations," Wiggins said. "Every day, I see NEC employees performing amazing technical tasks, going the extra mile for Soldiers and civilians with urgent needs, and finding innovative solutions to complex problems."
One complex issue NEC technicians face is facilitating implementation of the Army's coming Global Network Enterprise Construct - a streamlined, centralized system that will provide warfighters with the capabilities to quickly retrieve secured data.
In addition to customer service, mission and other areas, one of the criteria for winning NEC of the Year involved judges evaluating how Fort Drum is preparing and prepositioning itself for GNEC.
"It's the right way to do business for the warfighter," Thornton said of GNEC. "(Secure) access to information is what the warfighter is all about. It will make their environment a lot more fluid. It will be consistent, and it will be standardized."
Although day-to-day operations at Fort Drum's NEC often grow monotonous, Thornton said serving Soldiers here is a passion of hers and the entire organization.
"It's a dull rhythm that goes on here in this building," she said. "The war has been going on a long time. Soldiers come in and out of here all day long. You get to know a lot of them personally. But it's not like you are in the IT business and you don't know the customer and you don't understand them.
"You are faced with these young Soldiers who come in here for (assistance), and it just invokes this emotional stimulus inside of you to help, to get the mission done," she added. "You have a desire to give back to those who are protecting this country. You feel like you are giving back a small piece - it's a very small thing that we do. But it makes a difference."
Having people who go the extra mile to make that difference is what Wiggins said he also appreciates about the employees.
"When it comes down to it, people make or break any organization," he said. "The NEC is fortunate to have a great group of people who understand the importance of what they do and the impact their level of service has on the warfighter."
On top of her profound appreciation for a dedicated staff, Thornton credits a degree of NEC's success to Fort Drum's garrison leadership.
"I think this is an amazing garrison team," she said. "I've heard several commanders speak lately, and they all keep saying the same thing about this garrison.
"A lot of the things we do are NEC-centric," she continued. "But we couldn't do a lot of these things if we didn't have the support of our fellow garrison team, and that really comes from my heart. They make it easier. They're a pillar in our day-to-day operations. They always step up and help us ... because it's all for the same thing - the mission."