By Chelsea Bissell, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria Public AffairsMay 13, 2014
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey R. Dillingham, who has spent his 23 years of service in the down and dirty of the Army, arrived three months ago as the new command sergeant major of U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria.
As an Army Ranger, Airborne and Pathfinder School graduate, Dillingham is currently adjusting to his new role while lending his unique perspective to the garrison environment.
Bavarian News: How does this job differ from leadership roles you've had in the past?
Dillingham: This is the only administrative job in the Army that I've had throughout my career. I've always been at the (ground) level, so this is truly the first time that I've been fully emerged in a garrison environment.
BN: How are you adapting to it so far?
D: I'm learning. The learning curve is extremely steep right now, but I pride myself on being adaptive and figuring things out. I just hit the 90-day mark so I am not running yet, but I feel more comfortable where I'm currently at than I felt 90 days ago.
BN: What has been the biggest transition from working on the company level to working on the garrison level?
D: Having control. In a combat-arms organization, there's a hierarchy; you do (something) because you're told to and you're expected to. In a garrison, I really support everybody and own no one. So, it's more of a partnership with everyone else on post to get things done. Now, it's how are we going to work together to ensure that all of the organizations are successful? I have to communicate more and understand who I'm working with.
BN: What impact do you hope to have on USAG Bavaria?
D: I'm hoping to create a stronger team. Right now, having never being in an organization like this, I feel like I'm a new set of eyes on the same problem. I'm a different set of eyes from a different type of organization that prides itself on efficiencies and being proud of who they are and what they do.
So, hopefully I can bring that to the organization, which is already very successful, by adding to what we've already accomplished here in Bavaria.
BN: Do you have a main project, goal or something close to your heart that you hope to accomplish here?
D: Ultimately, it's Soldiers, families and civilians; that's my job when it comes down to it. I haven't really figured out what my niche is yet, because I really don't understand exactly everything the garrison does and how it's done.
Obviously, I'm going to focus on the barracks, I'm going to focus on living standards and sharing information.
When you're in a lower unit there are a lot of things that don't get to you. This afternoon, I'm having a senior NCO forum for about an hour. It's a social environment and I'm going to talk for about only 15 minutes. I'm just looking for feedback after that. Where are we? What are we doing? What are we failing at? How can we help you?
A lot of it is expectation management. We can look at everybody's problems and see how we can solve them together. There are no slide shows, no radio, just a bunch of senior leaders getting together to talk about how to make things better.
BN: What do you see being your biggest challenge?
D: Understanding how to implement change. The Army is changing. Bavaria is changing. We're getting new units, other units are leaving. How do we understand that and implement change across the entire formation to where everybody understands it and accepts it?
BN: What is one message that you'd most like to get out to young Soldiers?
D: I always ask Soldiers: What's the best unit in the Army? I truly believe that the best unit in the Army is the one that you're in. No matter where you're at, no matter what you're doing, enjoy it.
Have fun. There are going to be good times and bad times, but treat as if it's the best unit you're in and it's infectious. If you're having fun, then usually other people will start smiling, having fun.
And that's how you make friends, build relationships and enjoy where you're at. So, I guess the one message is: Have fun where you are. Don't let it get you down.
BN: What is your favorite aspect of Bavarian culture to date?
D: Right now: Everything. Everyone here is just good people. They take care of what is theirs, they're friendly. I might be playing charades for 15 minutes, but they're trying to help me. They're just good, country people.
BN: What's one final message you'd like to tell the community.
D: One of the messages I'm pushing on a daily basis is we can't fix it if we don't know it's broken. I might not know the answer, but I will continue to work to try to figure out what right is on a variety of things. "Right" might be how we're doing it now, but if you don't bring it up as an issue constructively, then we will never know how to fix it or never know it needs to be fixed.
I'm not trying to paint the picture that a bunch of stuff here is broken, because a lot of things here are going really well, but every place has issues. I need help understanding. So, if there are problems, if there are things out there that we need help with, by all means bring them up. We will look into making our organization better.