By Jim Dresbach, Pentagram Staff Writer July 29, 2013
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall, Commanding Officer Col. Anthony S. Barnes is a believer of a three-pronged philosophy.
The Florida native, who took command of H&S Bn., HQMC Henderson Hall July 9, endeavors to make strong bonds stronger, be accessible and highly visible on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall and use common sense while leading.
"There are three tenets for me. One is relationships. Two is communication, both vertically and horizontally, and the last tenet is just cross-functional thinking," Barnes said. "We can help people succeed by taking them down these three pillars. I have a heart and a passion for seeing people succeed."
Touching success and tackling passions are familiar themes for Barnes, who is a self-confessed "pilot by trade with a business degree." He recently invested a year of training toward participating in an Ironman running, swimming and cycling event.
"I have some really good friends, businessmen around town, who are in [a] mid-life crisis," said the colonel, who had never taken part in a triathlon before November, but has run in the Marine Corps Marathon and the Army Ten-Miler. "We're 45 to 55, and I started running and riding bikes with them and swimming. They convinced me to do an Ironman.
"The Ironman is a lot like life - it's an endurance event, and the people you meet along the way are fantastic," he continued.
"Someone told me I'd finish at seven or eight o'clock at night, but he told me to go back at midnight to see the finishers. They were of all shapes and sizes. Some of the most motivating things you'd ever want to see were right there. All have different stories - one is overcoming cancer, one is 400 pounds and now they weigh 200 pounds. You might be running along - there's a little pain involved in the Ironman - and you think you're hurting a little bit then you will run by someone who is missing a leg. You might run by a fireman who's in his full gear. That kind of stuff motivates you."
Barnes used a "quitting is not an option" mentality to finish his maiden triathlon voyage in 13 hours, 24 minutes and 44 seconds.
The colonel's passion also revolves around applying service to active duty Marines and veterans on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. He wants passionate service to increase even though budget dollars may be decreasing.
"It's really a heart issue," Barnes said about administering service. "It's about service to something bigger than yourself. It is also in the title of Headquarters and Service Battalion. You have to approach this as how can I serve them better in a declining resource environment. The process is you have to look at how much money you have, what you can do with that money and how you can do things a little more efficiently."
Barnes candidly stated that he wants to be highly visible at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall functions, events and ceremonies, and his hand is outreached to Army service members to partner for those in uniform to achieve their goals.
"The way that I want to advance the football is to deepen the relationships in the Battalion - both internally and externally and particularly with the Army," he said. "I want to seek to find common ground where we can find common ground. That is not always easy because you have an Army culture and you have a Marine culture. Not only in those cultures, you have different regulations. Sometimes, those regulations bump up against each other. Between myself and [JBM-HH Commander] Col. [Fern] Sumpter, we will try to find those common areas where we can take the best of the Marine Corps and the best of the Army and adopt those practices and maybe save some money and serve."
This is Barnes' third assignment inside the Beltway. Previous Military District of Washington missions have included time on the Pentagon's Headquarters Marine Corps Staff, a stint at Quantico and now at Henderson Hall. He confessed that he was caught off-guard when named as commanding officer of the battalion.
"I was completely surprised," he said of his latest assignment. "We were heading to Okinawa, Japan. They gave me a call and said it looks like you're going to be the CO of Headquarters and Service Battalion here in D.C. We were mentally geared as a family to go to Japan, and it took a little while to sink in."
During his initial month in command, Barnes has been observing and taking notes in regard to the Henderson Hall side of the joint base, but he mentally understands that change in command and change in general catches some off balance.
"Typically, change is not unique to the military," the new commanding officer said. "Change is change whether in the civilian world or here. It makes people uncomfortable. As leaders, how do we manage that change and how do we bring comfort to an uncomfortable situation? We have to be smart about what we change. Quite frankly, the chemistry between the primary players is also likely to change. In the end, it goes back to service, so you can serve the people you're serving better."
Barnes does know two of his thoughts will never change - his attitude toward leading Marines and the Marines themselves.
"There are some fine Marines here, and it's an extra bonus to work with the Army," he said. "The exciting piece is anytime you lead Marines, it is a good day."