By Kari Hawkins, USAG RedstoneAugust 8, 2014
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- It's not often that an Army officer gets to set up an entire new program.
But that was the challenge presented to Col. Brian Tachias when he was selected to serve as the first project manager for the newly established Fixed Wing Aircraft Project Office under the Program Executive Office for Aviation.
That was three years ago and today the project office manages more than 390 fixed wing aircraft in the Army's fleet.
"Maj. Gen. (Tim) Crosby (then program executive officer for aviation) reached out to Col. Tachias to start building this organization from the ground up," recalled Brig. Gen. Bob Marion, the current program executive officer for aviation.
"I remember monthly meetings when you would report, 'We found another 32 airplanes this month.' And that would happen month after month."
Under Tachias command, the Fixed Wing Aircraft Project Office represented the Army's push for centralized management of fixed wing aircraft at the system level, which was a big change in how the Army previously managed the fleet, Marion said. Not only did Tachias and project office employees take on central management of the fleet, but they were also charged with ensuring a smooth transition into the new project office and with determining what the Army's enduring system requirements would be for its fixed wing aircraft fleet.
"A key reason why standing up the Fixed Wing Project Office has been successful is not just the ability to understand the systems but also the ability to work together and find mutually supportive ways to execute the intent," the brigadier general said.
Marion praised Tachias' achievements and welcomed incoming project manager Col. Steve Clark during a Fixed Wing Project Office change of charter Thursday at Bob Jones Auditorium.
For his commitment to the mission, Tachias was awarded the Legion of Merit during the ceremony. He also received the Order of St. Michael Silver Award from the Army Aviation Association of America while wife Judy received the AAAA Lady of Loreto Award for her service. Although he is leaving the project office, Tachias will remain with PEO Aviation, serving on the brigadier general's staff.
Tachias thanked God for blessing him with great leaders who have given him valuable and sage advice, and for his family who have supported his career. His father, who was in the audience, is a Korean War and Vietnam War veteran who is the recipient of the Bronze Star, two Silver Stars and the Purple Heart. He survived Task Force Smith, the first Army ground maneuver unit to enter combat in Korea.
Tachias is the third generation in his family to serve in the nation's military. His grandfather was a World War II veteran, his older brother is a wounded warrior and now his oldest son, Brian, just completed an Army leader training course at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and will enter Marion Military Institute later this month.
He also thanked Crosby and Marion for their leadership, saying "you have given me the top cover I've needed on many occasions. You've give me lots of help and mentorship. Probably more than I wanted. But it's been good and a great learning experience."
Tachias described the employees of the Fixed Wing Aircraft Project Office as "an incredible team" that has worked hard to pull together the concept plans and office objectives of the new office.
Today, the Army's fixed wing aircraft fly an average of 350 hours a month in theater because of the project office "team that makes it go and that has provided that first class support to Soldiers."
Both personally and professionally, Tachias has worked to base his life on an acronym from the word FORCE ("May the FORCE be with you" from Star Wars) that he and his family made up and that is posted on a plaque at their home. FORCE stands for: F -- Faith in God, Family and Friends; O -- Obedience to God; R -- Respect and Responsibility; C -- Courage to do the right thing and Commitment; and E -- Excellence.
Tachias said it is difficult to leave the winning Fixed Wing Aircraft team.
"Walking away from the Fixed Wing team really caught up with me this week," he said. "What a great team this is and what a great decision the Army has made to select you, Col. Clark, to take this team on to more touchdowns."
In his comments, Clark thanked the Team Redstone leadership and the Fixed Wing Aircraft employees in the audience for their outpouring of support.
"I'm looking forward to building on an enduring relationship (within the Fixed Wing Aircraft community and at Redstone Arsenal) and raising my family in a well-rounded environment," he said, referring to his wife Dana and their five children.
Clark mentioned that he and Marion had met years ago during a leadership assessment program where Clark was assessed for his leadership potential. In his interface with Marion, Clark said "what I found was genuine leadership that truly reflected the Army attributes for not only caring for Soldiers but for also developing them."
He said he looks forward to taking the Fixed Wing Aircraft Project Office to the next level in its management of the Army's fixed wing aircraft fleet and to being a member of the committed and dedicated leadership team at the Program Executive Office for Aviation.
"I am honored to be on the team," Clark said.