By Mr. Rob Mcilvaine (ARNEWS)February 10, 2009
(FORT BELVOIR, Va.) -- In the midst of the ArmyAca,!a,,cs largest push in its history to improve quality of life programs for Soldiers and their Families, the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation CommandAca,!"the command responsible for oversight of the ArmyAca,!a,,cs MWR and Family programmingAca,!"is undergoing changes, as well.
On Friday, February 6, during a Change of Command ceremony at Fort BelvoirAca,!a,,cs Wallace Theater, Maj. Gen. John A. Macdonald passed the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command colors and command to Col. Brick Miller, FMWRC Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff.
Aca,!A"Brick is a terrific leader who believes deeply in the mission of FMWRC and we are most fortunate to have him in command,Aca,!A? said Lt. General Robert Wilson, Commanding General of the Installation Management Command, FMWRCAca,!a,,cs higher headquarters.
The command also begins its Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) move this spring, with an initial wave of approximately 150 employees moving to San Antonio.
Aca,!A"Our Soldiers and Families can rest assured that in spite of these changesAca,!"and in many cases because of these changesAca,!"the programs, services and activities they rely on to improve their quality of life will only get better,Aca,!A? Miller said.
Aca,!A"We have one of the best workforces in the Army,Aca,!A? Miller continued. Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm constantly amazed and impressed by their professionalism and dedication. TheyAca,!a,,cll weather these changes like the professionals they are.Aca,!A?
Macdonald gave his Aca,!A"heart-feltAca,!A? thank-you to Army Secretary Pete Geren for his leadership and guidance, to Wilson for the honor to serve with him, and to the FMWRC Soldiers and Civilians Aca,!A"who truly led the way.Aca,!A? He also praised the professionalism of the FMWRC staff and thanked them for the privilege to work with them, Aca,!A"not once, but twice.Aca,!A?
Macdonald got on the plane the next day to begin work immediately as Army Deputy for Gen. David D. McKiernan, Commander of International Security Assistance Force and Commander, U.S. Forces, Afghanistan.
As an added bonus, his wife, Brig. Gen. Anne F. Macdonald, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army Reserve Command, will be traveling to Afghanistan with him, but serving in a different location.
Macdonald first commanded the Army Community and Family Support Center in Alexandria, Va., for 16 months from 2004-06. He returned in December 2007, when the unit was redesignated as the Family and MWR Command and placed under the Installation Management Command. From Dec., 2007 to Feb. 6, 2009, he served as both the Commander, FMWRC, and Deputy Commander, IMCOM.
Aca,!A"HeAca,!a,,cs a man who doesnAca,!a,,ct take any breaks,Aca,!A? Lt. Gen. Robert Wilson said at FridayAca,!a,,cs ceremony. Aca,!A"He will make Afghanistan a better place, just as he has put his heart and soul into his command here. John, you have made the Army a better place for Soldiers, Civilians and Families everywhere and you have made a difference.Aca,!A?
For nearly three years of selfless service at IMCOM and FMWRC, Macdonald was presented on Friday with the Distinguished Service Medal, the IMCOM Stalwart Award and the MWR Order of the White Plume by Wilson. This is the first time in the ArmyAca,!a,,cs history the White Plume has been awarded twice to a Soldier or civilian.
Aca,!A"John, congratulations for the awards you so richly earned,Aca,!A? Wilson said.
At a ceremony on January 11, 2008 when he received his second star, officially elevating FMWRC to a two-star command, Macdonald set high expectations for FMWRC.
Aca,!A"I know how to do things better from having been the (Deputy Commanding General) of IMCOM, using the regions, who are the executors,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"WeAca,!a,,cre the planners and the visionary folks, so weAca,!a,,cre looking to really be able to implement more of that.Aca,!A?
According to the Citation for the Order of the White Plume, which sums up his accomplishments as commander, Macdonald met that goal. It reads:
Aca,!A"For almost three years of selfless service as the Deputy Commanding General, IMCOM, and Commanding General, FMWRC, (he) was a tireless advocate for improving the quality of life for Soldiers, including the National Guard and Reserves, and their Families to include those geographically dispersed.
Aca,!A"Examples of his dedication to Families include his visionary execution plan for the Army Family Covenant; extensive involvement in the Army Family Action Plan, which addresses the most significant issues affecting the quality of life for Soldiers, retirees, and Family members; implementation of Survivor Outreach Services, a comprehensive, multi-agency and multi-component approach of service delivery to Families of the Fallen; championing a significant increase in Child, Youth, and School services, programs, and facilities; and expanded community recreation programs available to Soldiers and Families.
Aca,!A"He promoted the care and support of our Warriors in Transition through development and execution of the Warrior Adventure Quest high adrenaline program and Warrior Zone recreation facilities. He ensured Soldiers and Families were informed of the availability of these outstanding quality of life programs through innovative strategic communications and marketing techniques. Major General MacdonaldAca,!a,,cs selfless-service to this Nation, to Soldiers and to the Army Family truly embodies and epitomizes the spirit of the Order of the White Plume.Aca,!A?
Aca,!A"MG Macdonald brought to IMCOM the boldness of a war fighter, the strategic vision of a leader, the get-results approach of a corporate executive, and the deep concern only an Army spouse can feel for Soldiers and Families. He focused these traits on proving the value of IMCOM to the Army,Aca,!A? said John B. Nerger, IMCOM Executive Director.
Although he wonAca,!a,,ct be able to see the mission through to completion, Macdonald said he cherished the challenge of leading the organization through the BRAC initiative that will move IMCOM, FMWRC and the Army Environmental Command to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio by Oct. 1, 2011.
Aca,!A"The Army is fortunate to have a senior leader like Gen. Macdonald who is mission-focused and completely dedicated to the welfare of Soldiers, Civilians and Families. Intelligent, decisive and a born leader, Gen. Macdonald is the epitome of a general officer,Aca,!A? Wilson said Friday.
With a touch of humor that prompted a ripple of laughter from the audience, he continued, Aca,!A"But, weAca,!a,,cre not really here to talk about his wife Anne Macdonald. I will come back to her later.Aca,!A?
J.C. Abney, currently Special Assistant for Soldier and Family Programs Integration and Transformation at FMWRC, served as both the Chief of Staff and Deputy Commander at FMWRC before retiring in 2008.
Aca,!A"Having the opportunity to work under Maj. Gen. Macdonald, both in uniform and now as a civilian, I know he will be the right man at the right time in his new position in AfghanistanAca,!A| great leader, an operator, knows installation management, knows Family/Soldier and MWR programsAca,!A| sounds like a recipe for success to me,Aca,!A? J.C. Abney said.
Aca,!A"HeAca,!a,,cs one of the most dynamic, energetic, and no nonsense leaders who can focus on the task at hand and develop solutions,Aca,!A? Abney continued.
Getting to this point in his career took years of listening and learning. At his End of Tour interview for the Center of Military History in 2006, Macdonald summed up how he approached the job when he took command of FMWRC.
Aca,!A"On the afternoon of the Change of Command in 2004, I did a Town Hall so everyone could see who this new person was, and I made that as positive, fun, and enlightening as possible. And then I spent a lot of time listening to what people needed help withAca,!A|and we worked on it, real quick. And that gave me the agenda of what I needed to do while I was here. It really had to do with what people needed me to do, not what General MacdonaldAca,!a,,cs good idea was.Aca,!A?
The Soldiers in Afghanistan are probably already telling him what needs to be done. They can be assured of one thing: Macdonald will get it done with enthusiasm.
Aca,!A"I canAca,!a,,ct begin to tell you the number of times he has leaned over to me and said Aca,!EoeisnAca,!a,,ct this exciting.Aca,!a,,c ThatAca,!a,,cs John Macdonald. His passion is infectious,Aca,!A? Wilson said.