By Mrs. Jennifer Bacchus (AMC)August 25, 2016
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- According to Nathan Hill, Anniston Army Depot's civilian executive assistant from 1981 to 1999, leadership, in the early years, had a vision for what the depot would be.
He said individuals, such as Dave Stanley and General Robert Bergquist, made sure Anniston Army Depot was associated with tanks and are a large part of why the depot still exists today as a vital part of the Calhoun County community.
"Those guys made the depot," said Hill.
Bergquist, who was commander of Anniston Army Depot from 1973-1976, requested a rationalization study be done on the installation to show its worthiness to be designated as the tank rebuild center.
"When he took command of the Depot System Command, he did that same rationalization study for every depot," said Hill.
These studies later became the basis behind the Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence designations for each installation.
The depot also earned a reputation, early and often, for going above and beyond to support the warfighters.
"The depot really rose to the occasion during the Vietnam War," said Hill, detailing how the installation sent employees overseas to repair vehicles and equipment in Taiwan, to keep equipment needing maintenance from having to travel all the way back to the U.S.
Granada and Panama were other military operations which relied on ANAD as they assisted the 82nd Airborne Division with M551 Sheridan vehicles.
"Anniston was one of the first depots able to export maintenance capabilities to other states and countries," said Hill.
Part of that capability was a fleet of airplanes and helicopters, which were maintained at the Anniston Municipal Airport for use by the depot and Fort McClellan.
"I will never forget the first time I was told to get a briefing about the flying squads," said Col. (retired) Greg Potts, commander of the depot from 1997-1999. "It was literally a depot capability that was worldwide, and known worldwide."
ANAD has seen many transitions over the years -- different weapons system, combat vehicles -- and one of the most noticeable changes has been in the workforce itself.
"Up until the early '90s, every individual and organization on the depot was in the chain of command of the depot commander," said Col. (retired) Joel Denney, who commanded the installation from 1991-1993.
Now, numerous tenants, such as the Defense Logistics Agency and the Anniston Munitions Center, handle portions of the workload once performed by depot employees.
Denney was also a witness to another change in the workforce, the decline of the military presence.
In 1983, when the then Lt. Col. Denney served as the executive officer for the Directorate of Maintenance, there were 50 military personnel in various positions on the installation. When Denney returned as commander in 1991, the number had decreased to 20.
"When I left, there were nine," he said. "That's an interesting transition -- how the people who perform those missions have changed over the years."
Today, the depot has seven members of the military who work on the installation, most in command of their respective organizations. The leadership roles in the various directorates are now staffed by Army civilians.
According to Hill, numerous military members who served in supervisory roles over the installation's shops and directorates through the years went on to command other depots or equivalent organizations.
Potts noted that, as the military presence on depots and arsenals declined, he believes the number of military officers who understand the importance of the Army's organic industrial base has declined as well.
Hill replied that is one reason he is appreciative of the installation's current commander, saying Col. Martine Kidd "learned about the depot on her own and then, rather than take a position as a brigade commander elsewhere, specifically asked to come to Anniston."
In an effort to educate members of the military at various levels, the depot hosts numerous visits each year, allowing individuals from defense contractors up to the Secretary of the Army to tour and learn about the installation.
"ANAD continues to draw the attention, the visibility and the visitors from the leadership of the Army," said Potts.
Part of reason behind that may be found in the spirit of the workforce. Potts and Denney each remarked on the patriotism they witnessed firsthand in the depot employees.
The late 1990s, when Potts was the ANAD commander, it was a period of declining workload for the depot. At the time, the Peace Dividend was reducing the size of the Army and the number of combat vehicles.
But, morale of the workforce continued to be high. Employees kept their focus on their ultimate customers, the Soldiers.
"The people of Anniston Army Depot continued to have the attitude that we were still in the business of supporting readiness. Their attitude put the depot in a good position," said Potts.
"The leadership of the depot is important, but, it's also the people. The employees are going to work, no matter if it's Col. Denney or Col. Potts as the commander," said Denney. "Time changes, facilities change, but the bottom line is that the culture of this region is what makes the workforce want to take care of the military."