Leader Equipped With A Customer's View
October 8, 2010
- "This is a world class organization that supports the war fighter in every regard."
- "I've been a benefactor of what AMCOM and Team Redstone has provided to our Soldiers in the field."
- "It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to come to AMCOM and be part of that support to the war fighter."
- "AMCOM has a great reputation throughout the Army and in the field for support and responsiveness to the aviation and missile communities."
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- The customer has come to the Aviation and Missile Command in the steps of Col. Chandler "Skip" Sherrell.
AMCOM's new chief of staff brings to the job a Soldier's wartime experience with deployments during Operation Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. And, for this Apache and Black Hawk pilot, much of that experience came at the controls of aviation systems designed, tested and managed by Team Redstone.
"This is a world class organization that supports the war fighter in every regard," Sherrell said. "I was a tactical commander twice leading Soldiers in combat at the company and brigade levels. So, I've been a benefactor of what AMCOM and Team Redstone has provided to our Soldiers in the field.
"It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to come to AMCOM and be part of that support to the war fighter. Not many aviation officers get the opportunity to work in an organization that provides this kind of support to Soldiers and civilians downrange."
Sherrell, who has a Legion of Merit and Bronze Star among his many military awards, became AMCOM's chief of staff in July, following graduation from the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery. His 24-year career has included assignments with the 6th Cavalry during Operation Desert Shield/Storm, the Total Army Personnel Command, the 3-229th Aviation in Bosnia, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Multi-National Corps-Iraq Combat Aviation Brigade in Balad in 2007-08 and the Multi-National Division-Center Combat Aviation Brigade in Baghdad in 2008.
Coming to Huntsville has brought Sherrell and his family closer to relatives. Although he and his wife Lauri both grew up in Army families, Lauri Sherrell's parents now live in Huntsville. Two of the couple's daughters are attending college - one at the University of Alabama and the other at Auburn University -- and their youngest daughter attends Bob Jones High School.
"This has been a wonderful move for our family," Sherrell said.
But that doesn't mean Sherrell is getting a lot of family time. He has spent the last few months with boots on the ground getting familiar with the civilians who make up AMCOM.
"AMCOM has a great reputation throughout the Army and in the field for support and responsiveness to the aviation and missile communities," he said. "My first few months here have done nothing but confirm that perception. AMCOM and Team Redstone is truly made up of professionals dedicated to supporting Soldiers and their families.
"This has been a busy couple of months with my coming on board and the transition between two commanding generals. But things have gone very well and that reflects back on the organization. The mark of a great organization is when leaders change and the change is transparent to those who we support."
And knowing the importance of AMCOM to the Soldier makes Sherrell even more determined and committed to his work.
"It's a real privilege to be able to serve alongside all the employees of AMCOM, both here and deployed," he said. "I know firsthand the importance of what we do every day, whether in combat or peace time. To be part of this organization and the support it provides is both personally and professionally rewarding for me."
AMCOM is Sherrell's first assignment within the Army Materiel Command organization. It is also the first assignment that has put him in a close working relationship with the program executive offices for Aviation, and Missiles and Space, and in a support role with all of Team Redstone.
"As chief of staff, I am responsible for managing the day-to-day activities for AMCOM. Our mission is about being responsive to the Soldiers in the field, and to the aviation and missile communities," he said. "Beyond that mission, I am also responsible for working closely with the Garrison to make sure support continues to all Redstone Arsenal tenants and the Team Redstone community both inside and outside the gates."
Sherrell has experience with working among various and evolving organizations, especially during his duties as brigade commander of Task Force 49 at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. In that position, he led the aviation operations of 7,000 Soldiers as they deployed to Iraq, served seven months at Balad and then established a new aviation brigade task force in support of the 10th Mountain Division in Baghdad.
"We were working to lay the groundwork for where we are today as we reduce the number of Soldiers in Iraq," Sherrell said.
"The biggest challenge as a deployed commander was that our task organization changed while in combat. That change gave me the responsibility of leading units and Soldiers that I had not trained with and yet they had to become part of our formation while in combat. Trying to form a team and still meet the daily combat requirements was a challenge. But, a tremendous staff and the leadership at the battalion levels made it work."
Though the level of violence was de-escalating during the deployment, the threat was still kinetic, changing and random.
"I really have a lot of gratitude for the efforts of the units that came before us and the Soldiers working with us during that time. They made the environment much more permissive and today their work allows the people of Iraq a level of democracy and freedom," Sherrell said.
In his 24-year career, Sherrell said the Army has given him many opportunities to lead Soldiers. Sherrell attended Auburn University on an ROTC scholarship, following in the footsteps of his father, who is a retired quartermaster officer.
"I knew I wanted to serve," he said. "Growing up in a military family, I certainly understood the importance of commitment and service to one's country. But I didn't appreciate the camaraderie and sense of family the Army possesses that gives back so much to the nation.
"The Army gives you a very different view of the world. I could not have imagined I'd have opportunities to lead Soldiers in combat, to care for their families, to grieve with them and to celebrate their successes."
As an officer, Sherrell has appreciated the opportunities to lead Soldiers, to deploy with Soldiers, and to ensure their readiness for combat. He has also enjoyed the work he has done to support Soldier families.
"There is an incredible connection required of Soldiers families and their children. As Soldiers, we understand what would be asked of us. But that's not always true of our families. We simply cannot do enough to support the families who support our Soldiers," he said.
Even though the Army has been stretched with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with the work to restructure and transform to meet the nation's requirements, Sherrell believes today's Army is stronger and better as a result of its challenges.
"The Army has answered the call. We are postured and prepared to meet any threat our nation faces," he said. "Our Army today continues to be made up of very dedicated, committed and professional young men and women who voluntarily go in harm's way to preserve the rights of others."
The Army continues to provide opportunities for leadership and professional development that its young Soldiers can "only imagine at this stage in their lives," he said.
"It's an opportunity to see foreign countries, to see the world, and to lead others. It's a leadership opportunity like no other."
Sherrell said the nation owes a debt of gratitude to Soldiers and their families for their service.
But he also said such service can offer its own sense of appreciation.
"I hope all Soldiers and their families will look back someday and know they made a difference," he said. "Making a difference is what it's all about. There is no greater profession than service to others."