WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii -- U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii welcomed its newest top civilian official to the island earlier this month, but Deputy Garrison Commander Leonard Housley is no stranger to Hawaii.
He served as the director of USAG-HI's Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization, and Security for four years before leaving to take on other roles, including his most recent position as deputy garrison commander for Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
Housley returned during a time of shrinking resources for the Army, which recently announced it would be phasing out the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, among other possible reductions to troop and support levels in Hawaii.
Housley spoke to the "Hawaii Army Weekly" about these and other challenges facing USAG-HI, as well as what he hopes to accomplish during his tenure here.
Q: You were Directorate of Plans Training Mobilization and Security (DPTMS) director for USAG-HI from January 2007 until September 2010. How does it feel to be back in Hawaii?
A: It's great to be back in Hawaii and see familiar faces and friends. A lot of the people who I have worked with before are still here, and that's always good for relationships.
Q: Have you noticed any significant changes in the short time since you've been back?
A: The senior commander role has seemed to come full circle. The last time I was here, it was the 25th (Infantry Division), then the 8th (Theater Sustainment Command) and then U.S. Army-Pacific, and now it's back with the 25th, so it seems to be settled now, which is always good for the garrison. It's great to work with Tropic Lightning again.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of being a deputy garrison commander?
A: Being able to help the staff, being able to coach, teach and watch the people in the organization flourish and take personal pride in what they do. Watching them grow and reach their maximum potential.
Q: What is the toughest part?
A: One of the things I try to do is take burdensome processes and act as a filter for the organizations, so that they can focus on doing their missions. At the garrison, you kind of work for everybody and different organizations have competing requirements. That's tough to manage.
The other challenge for us is management expectation. We have to reduce some of our capabilities just based on reductions to budgets, and all too often that doesn't get translated in the correct way to the people we support. It can appear we're not providing quality support when that's really not the case. We have to pick and choose what we can do because we just don't have the resources that we used to.
Q: What would you like to accomplish during your time here?
A: I want to work on workforce development and do some things for the civilian staff. As we've been taking cuts, the staff has been overworked. We've got a lot of missions with decreasing resources.
I want to really focus on the human capital piece of our organization. Our people are our greatest strength, and I want to focus on that and building the bench.
In most organizations, we have an older workforce, and being able to build our own, build the bench and promote the younger workers into available positions, I think, is very important.
Q: You've come here just as the Army announced its plans to downsize, including reducing the number of Soldiers and civilian employees here due to budgetary issues (sequestration). What types of challenges will this present for you in your position?
A: I was here when we transferred 2nd (Stryker Brigade Combat Team) from an IBCT (infantry brigade combat team) to the Strykers, so I'm familiar with the support requirements before, and what those were after the transfer (to a Stryker brigade). We've always had issues with supporting training for Stryker units and adding Stryker vehicles.
We've had lots of litigation and working through that is a long process so … as far as supporting the commanders and supporting the troops, this might work to our benefit.