By Maureen A. Rose, IMCOMJuly 22, 2014
FORT KNOX, Ky. (July 22, 2014) -- Fort Knox had the opportunity to show off some of its world-class facilities during a visit Monday, from the Under Secretary of the Army, Brad Carson.
Before visiting with Knox's major commands, Carson toured the installation where the post's energy programs were highlighted. Citing the green initiatives, including the energy security facilities as well as the energy bunker and monitoring facilities, the post energy manager, R.J. Dyrdek, discussed the unique programs underway.
Carson asked how many other installations are using combined heat pump technology.
"Fort Knox is the only one that we know of," Dyrdek explained.
At the Human Resources Command, Maj. Gen. Richard Mustion, HRC commander, and his staff briefed Carson about the unit's mission and changes being made to the command's business practices. Mustion explained one of the lines of efforts has been to transform the way the Human Resources enterprise operates.
Mustion told Carson that he has been in human resources for 33 years, and in that time, the process has not fundamentally changed at all. During Mustion's time at the helm of Human Resources Command, concerted efforts have been made transform to eliminate redundancies and re-engineer the business processes.
"We've moved from the abacus to a computer in my time," Mustion said.
The command's first priority is still maintaining the Army's readiness as the drawdown begins. However, Mustion said that requires managing Soldiers as individuals, not simply as social security numbers in a database. He said keeping humans in the decision-making process is critical, even if it is a more manpower intensive effort.
"When it comes to taking care of and developing Soldiers, it's not something we can let machines do," he said. "It's one that requires intellect. It requires art, not just science, in the mission set."
Carson had questions for the Human Resources Command managers, and had a lively discussion of functional areas, as well as a green pages experiment followed. He asked managers about changes they would like to see at the Department of the Army, and left Human Resources Command promising more visits in the future.
At Cadet Command, Brig. Gen. Peggy Combs indicated a similar issue, with very few changes having been made in the Cadet Command business model, since 1916. She said cadet command staff is also looking at ways to leverage technology, and build more flexibility into the way it conducts business.
Carson asked for more information about the Order of Merit List used for Cadet career placement. He questioned why a student as state school with a 3.5 GPA, would be rated higher than a student from an Ivy League school with a 3.0 GPA.
Combs explained that while the GPA is currently the single most important factor for Cadet placement on the Order of Merit List, she hopes to change that next year. She said the GPA would still be important, but other cognitive tests such as the Miller Analogy test, the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+), and the Graduate Record Exam, will be used in 2016, as part of a pilot program. The statistics from the pilot program will be compared with the previous standards to see how much, if any, difference the new standards have on where a Cadet ends up on the Order of Merit List.
Combs told Carson that more emphasis is being placed on students who study science, technology, engineering and math subjects.
"We're looking for agile, adaptive thinkers who will become skilled problem solvers," Combs said. "That's what the Army has told us they need for the Army of the future."
In addition, the Cadet Command and ROTC would like more diversity in its ranks, she said, but it's a difficult problem. She explained that the Army demographics do not reflect the demographic breakdown of the nation.
Carson also asked about sexual harassment training, and if the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention, or SHARP, partnership initiative with colleges is working.
Combs explained that 81 college campuses have signed the partnership since the spring, but she feels more progress will be made in the next semester.
Because sexual assaults on campuses have many common elements with those in the Army, the partnership makes good sense and ought to help both parties, she said. Because the age group (18-24) is similar, as well as contributing factors of increased alcohol abuse, there are commonalities and lessons to be learned that should benefit both colleges and the Army.
Combs and Carson agreed to revisit SHARP issues in the future, to discuss progress and lessons learned.
At the Recruiting Command, the staff presented its missions and business practices. Carson repeated some of his questions about how the Army is addressing applicant quality and diversity. The staff responded by explaining the challenges recruiters face as America's economy shifts.
When the economy improves, recruiters have more trouble finding and enlisting fully qualified applicants, and monetary incentives are not as enticing, they explained. Also, to meet the goal of 83,000 accessions, recruiters will make more than 15 million contacts with potential applicants. This is a very labor-intensive mission.
In fiscal year 2014, 11,000 applicants sent to Military Entrance Processing Stations were not accessed due to medical problems or other last-minute disqualifying factors.
Carson closed his day after visits to the Army Reserve Readiness Training Center, where he observed classes being taught there. Again, he asked for feedback and asked students to identify issues they have.
Several spoke up, and Carson agreed to take their concerns to the Chief of Army Reserves Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley.
An instructor with the school was asked if there was anything he needed to do his job better. He explained that he needed the fuselage of a C-130 in order to better teach students how to load material for aerial transport.
Carson said he would be sure to bring it up, and see if he could find something to help.