By Ms. Kari Hawkins (AMCOM)January 13, 2017
The Army's commitment to developing leaders was evident Jan. 11 during a change of charter ceremony that celebrated the accomplishments of two general officers who both have ties to the Program Executive Office for Aviation at Redstone Arsenal.
Outgoing Program Executive Officer for Aviation Brig. Gen. Bob Marion and incoming PEO-Aviation Brig. Gen. Thomas Todd were heralded as officers with experiences and accomplishments that have prepared them to lead Army organizations. Their change of charter ceremony filled the 650-seat Bob Jones Auditorium, with the Army Materiel Command's Lt. Gen. Larry Wyche and the Aviation and Missile Command's Maj. Gen. Doug Gabram joined by several retired generals and senior executive service members as well as community leaders, Soldiers and PEO-Aviation employees in the audience.
"The number of people who are here reflects something about the people who are on the stage today. It's impressive," said Lt. Gen. Michael Williams, principal military deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, who, as the PEO's senior military leader, officiated at the ceremony.
The change of charter ceremony represents the Army's ability to prepare and retain the quality leaders needed to sustain trust and confidence in the organization, Williamson said.
"The Army cannot afford to lose its best when we change out leadership, and we do that routinely and regularly. The success of our organizations is directly tied to that," he said.
"Among Army senior leadership there is no expectation that we won't complete the mission. That's how good we are with the right training, education and experience. New leadership can come into an organization and not skip a beat. That's a big deal and we take it for granted because we do it so well. With the transfer of power, authority and leadership, the organization is only going to continue to be better."
A change of charter ceremony, Williamson said, is a time to demonstrate the experiences that leaders have had to prepare them for their new roles. While Marion will take his experiences as the program executive officer for Aviation on to the Pentagon where he will serve as the deputy for Acquisition and Systems Management for ASA (ALT), Todd brings his experiences as the deputy commanding general for AMC's Research, Development and Engineering Command to his new role as PEO for Aviation.
"This was the best job in the Army for me at the right time in my career," Marion said. "It was an opportunity to interact with the best enterprise focused singularly on taking care of Soldiers. It really is one team of employees trying their best to do whatever they can to deliver the best capability to Soldiers."
The enterprise refers to the partnership between PEO-Aviation, PEO-Missiles and Space, the Aviation and Missile Command and its elements.
Marion also thanked AMCOM's Gabram for his leadership, saying he "sets the tone for the cooperation and teamwork that is necessary for all the organizations at Team Redstone. We are successful at delivering capability because of the tone he sets throughout Team Redstone."
Marion, who was awarded a Legion of Merit during the ceremony, led PEO-Aviation during a time of significant restructuring, and tremendous change and activity. The total number of helicopters fielded in his three years of leadership could actually qualify as the third largest Army aviation unit in the world.
"That only happens because of the teamwork in this room," he said. "It's a great metric and it was met with an eye on Soldiers and their families."
Marion's favorite plaque hanging in the headquarters offices of PEO-Aviation is the one that shows that the PEO's employees donated more money to Army Emergency Relief in 2016 than any other Redstone Arsenal organization.
"We are delivering capabilities and helping Soldier families," Marion said, adding the PEO's commitment to the mission and to AER also reflects the importance of balance between the professional and personal lives of Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians.
"You have to strive for balance in everything you do," said Marion, whose own family has experienced the "Marion history lesson" with the goal of visiting all of the nation's state capitols.
"It's never going to be 50/50. There will be deployments, source selection boards and other necessary things that will put you out of balance. But when you don't have those things, you have to be sure to make those school meetings and ball games. You have to make a purposeful effort to try for balance."
Marion expressed his commitment to the Army's core values. He has seen those values -- especially the value of selfless service -- exhibited by the employees and contractors who are committed to the PEO-Aviation mission.
"I've had such a phenomenal time in this job," he said.
Marion thanked the leadership in attendance, describing them as a "unique organization of general officers and SESs who retire here and continue to serve, and who provide a voice of reason, clarity and experience that makes our Army stronger."
Marion also welcomed Todd back to the PEO. Todd served as the project manager for Utility Helicopters from 2011 to 2015, the product manager for the CH-47 Improved Cargo Helicopter from 2006 to 2009, and a contracting officer during two assignments at Redstone Arsenal in the late 1990s. He deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan while assigned to Utility Helicopters, and also deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
In his comments, Todd said, "I have no doubt that I'm taking over a great organization."
His time with RDECOM and now with PEO-Aviation are broadening experiences that go back to people, and that fit well with his commitment to God, family, friends and teammates.
"Life is a journey and it's about people. Technology is how we help people … During the journey of the next three years we can get a lot done for our Soldiers. We can and we have. Let our actions say what we are going to do," Todd said. "This is a joy, a journey, a passion for us as a family. The PEO for Aviation has a great workforce and a great reputation. I'm honored to be here."