By U.S. ArmyMarch 22, 2017
What first brought you to Fort Leonard Wood?
After I graduated from the University of Missouri at Rolla in 1983 with an engineering degree, I stayed home for a few years with my kids. I had planned on eventually working in St. Louis and had interviewed with some companies, but then heard about the U.S. Army Engineer School -- that it was moving from Fort Belvoir to Fort Leonard Wood -- so I applied for an engineering position and that started my career; and that has been one of the best decisions in my life.
In your time here, how have things changed? How have they stayed the same?
Since I began working here 30 years ago, the one thing that has remained the same is our highly capable and professional workforce. The military members and civilians that I have served with have been top notch -- extremely professional, competent, and demonstrate selfless service. Our team members maintain great professional relationships and contacts across this installation and with other installations, and we get to know and care for one another, making us like Family.
I would say the greatest change would be the changes and additions to our mission set as well as to our facilities. Over the last 30 years, Fort Leonard Wood has lost a few units and missions but has greatly increased our capability and capacity. We have received the mission for 88M and truck driver training, the Engineer School followed by the Chemical and Military Police schools, the Prime Power school and several other proponencies. We have a great team here who developed a fantastic facilities master plan and kept it strong over the years to ensure that we have had excellent training facilities, ranges, barracks and housing to accommodate these new missions and to posture us for the future.
What are some of your favorite memories about working on Fort Leonard Wood?
Well, I have really had many great assignments. I started out working in Combat Developments, which was very interesting -- looking at future threats and joint operating concepts, and ensuring our branch equities were addressed in scenarios. And then developing the doctrine, organizations, training, materiel/systems, leadership, personnel, and facilities -- to provide our combatant commanders and the nation with the unique capabilities we develop here at Fort Leonard Wood -- that has been very rewarding. In addition, working in the Engineer School, teaching some of the engineering courses and getting to interact with and help students -- these are some of my favorite memories.
How has serving as the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence deputy to the commanding general enriched your career, your life?
It has been my honor and privilege to serve in every role I have had at Fort Leonard Wood, and every one of these roles has been enriching or has changed or improved my experience in some way. Being the deputy to the commanding general has been particularly enjoyable though due to the broad nature of the duties and the ability to lead people, enable change and provide capability or capacity across numerous functions at Fort Leonard Wood. The position holds great responsibility; I took it very seriously, but I also enjoyed it, particularly working with leaders and teams in every single military organization on the post. Serving our nation and doing it with so many great and diverse units, organizations, teams, and people has been a blast.
What about serving the Army meant the most to you?
My dad was in the military, and I grew up overseas and continue to love to travel. But, looking around the world and studying historical events has convinced me that, to remain secure and prosperous as a nation, we must have a well-trained, strong and ready Army and military to protect our nation and to deter those who may wish us harm. I am just one person, one civilian, who supported a sea of outstanding professional military members who serve that calling -- to defend our Constitution -- and it is humbling to think that I had just a tiny piece of that.
What advice would you offer a new Army civilian?
In terms of professional advice, I would offer the following: Don't be intimidated by what you do not know; be willing to jump in and learn. Always work very hard, to your fullest potential. Enjoy each day, and show the people around you that you care about them and the mission. And, if you are interested in advancing, the very best things you can do are: demonstrate our values in every situation; show dignity and respect to all people; do a fantastic job serving your organization in the position you are currently in, and have plans and goals for your life and career.
Anything else you would like to add?
Two things. First, each person on this post plays a critical role in developing Maneuver Support capabilities -- unique skills and tools -- that are in demand and required by commanders for successful operations around the world. I hope each one who works here remembers their purpose and their calling and remains very proud of their contributions to our mission and to the nation.
Second, I want to thank every person -- military, civilian, contractor, Family members and community members -- who took the time to teach, train, mentor, coach, support or help me these last 30 years. There is no other career I would have rather had, no other place I would have rather lived or worked and no other people/teammates I would have rather served with.
(Editor's note: Dr. Johnson is scheduled to retire March 31 after 30 years of service to the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, Fort Leonard Wood and the Army.)