By Kari Hawkins, Redstone Rocket StaffFebruary 5, 2009
One of the Army's leading generals made a quiet visit to Redstone Arsenal Jan. 27-28 to get up to speed on the some of the programs and initiatives that have made the Arsenal a hot spot for military investment and growth.
Gen. Ann Dunwoody, the Army's first female four-star general and commander of the Army Materiel Command, made her first visit to Redstone Arsenal without any media fanfare. Though she kept her visit low key, those Dunwoody met with and greeted during her tours of the Prototype Integration Facility, Army Materiel Command Forward and Army Security Assistance Command Forward headquarters, and the Software Engineering Directorate were excited about the opportunity to talk with the general, shake her hand and even get their picture taken with her.
"She's the first woman. Oh my gosh! Hillary (Clinton) didn't make it (as president). But General Dunwoody did make it up the general ranks," said Terrian Hicks, the equal employment officer for USASAC, after meeting Dunwoody. "Every woman in a green suit can now aspire to be like her. It's nice to have a woman at the helm."
Hicks was determined to get her "history picture" with Dunwoody, as were several other employees at the USASAC and AMC forward headquarters. And, Dunwoody was happy to oblige.
"It's a pleasure to meet you," Dunwoody told Jim Schrand of AMC, a phrase she repeated several times during the tour. "I want to thank you for what you do. I look forward to working with you."
Like other AMC and USASAC employees, Schrand was impressed with the general's visit.
"It's nice to have that type of leadership to come down and say 'Hi!' and see what's going on," he said.
Dunwoody and the employees of AMC, now located at Fort Belvoir, Va., will move to Redstone Arsenal in 2011 upon completion of their $128 million, 412,000-square-foot, two-building headquarters facility on Martin Road. The buildings will house 1,340 AMC employees and 340 USASAC employees.
Dunwoody began her visit to Redstone Arsenal on Jan. 27 with an AMC Operations update. She then toured the Prototype Integration Facility, where she got a crash course in current operations, Apache aircraft survivability product improvement, the Surfaced Launched Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (SLAMRAAM), the Non Line-of-Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS), the communication relay system and solar shield for Shadow, the Patriot launcher and other systems.
As she entered the PIF, Patti Martin, director of the Engineering Directorate, Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, told Dunwoody that the 60,000-square-foot facility is a "small footprint of all the AMRDEC laboratories" at Redstone Arsenal.
"You've seen some of these projects on paper," Danny Featherston, the PIF's program manager, told Dunwoody at the beginning of the tour. "Now, you'll see the projects in hardware. We start with an idea or a dream and then we make it reality for the Soldier. There's a lot of synergy in the work we do here."
Dunwoody was impressed with the improvements she saw in Army hardware.
"Look how far we've come in just a few years," she said.
After her PIF tour, Dunwoody participated in a series of lunchtime briefings, including the status of the Base Realignment and Closure '05 facilities, the Enhanced Use Lease facility, AMCOM's Course of Business Readiness, Condition-Based Maintenance, Supply Chain Management and Log Modernization Program.
In the late afternoon of Jan. 27, Dunwoody took an aerial tour by helicopter of the AMC construction site and Redstone Arsenal, ending the tour with the landing of the UH-1 Huey on a makeshift helipad in a parking lot outside of the AMC and USASAC forward headquarters buildings off Redstone Road. She was greeted by retired Col. John Olshefski, now serving as strategic adviser for logistics, force structure and transformation for AMC Command Forward, and Col. Frederick Heaggans, director of USASAC Command Forward.
Dunwoody toured both the USASAC and AMC facilities, meeting several of the organization's employees.
"This is the reason why we've had a good transition," Heaggans said while introducing Dunwoody to USASAC employees. "Everyone works hard."
"It's an honor to meet her. I mean, a female general! It's something. It's really something," said USASAC employee Jacqueline Williams.
During her informal tour, Dunwoody asked employees how they liked Redstone Arsenal. USASAC employee Rose Zarzour quickly replied "I love it!" and Sharon Corcoran, a USASAC employee who is also an AMC Fellow, said it's been "awesome."
Dunwoody then met with AMC managers to discuss the BRAC move of AMC to Redstone Arsenal. She later had dinner with local community leaders. On the morning of Jan. 28, she toured the Software Engineering Directorate before departing.
Although her trip was quick, Dunwoody enjoyed being able to familiarize herself with Redstone Arsenal and its employees.
"Hopefully, we'll have a little bit more time to get to know each other when we all move in. It's going to be sooner than later," she told the employees at USASAC and AMC Command Forward headquarters.