Army's top communities cited for boosting force readiness
1 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Host-nation firefighters participate in U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart's annual Stallion Shake force protection exercise at the Stuttgart Airport in Echterdingen, Germany, Oct. 22, 2016. The partnership between fire departments was mentioned as USAG St... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Army's top communities cited for boosting force readiness
2 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Host Nation first responders and firefighters participate in the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart's annual Stallion Shake force protection exercise at the Stuttgart Airport in Echterdingen, Germany, Oct. 22, 2016. The partnership between fire departments... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Army's top communities cited for boosting force readiness
3 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Lt. Gen. James McConville (left), the Army's assistant chief of staff, G-1, presents a check to the winning active-Army team of the Army Communities of Excellence awards program in the Pentagon, May 24, 2017. U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart commander C... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Army's top communities cited for boosting force readiness
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Army News Service) -- The garrison commander of the Army's top installation equated his role to one of a town mayor: overseeing an interconnected community of people, places and services.

U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart was the top winner of the 2017 Army Communities of Excellence Awards for active-duty installations in a ceremony Wednesday at the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes.

The ACOE Awards honor the top active Army, National Guard, and Army Reverse installations that have achieved high levels of excellence in building a quality environment, outstanding facilities and superior service.

"Soldiers, civilians and families depend on 156 installations around the globe and more than 1,100 community-based Guard and Reserve centers," said Lt. Gen. James C. McConville, deputy chief of staff, G-1.

"The Army's people are our most important weapons system and readiness is a priority. Each of you should be proud of your efforts and today we recognize the communities who have gone above and beyond," he told the assembled crowd.

This was the first time Stuttgart placed in the ACOE competition.

"We have a phenomenal team and the beauty of it is the processes, strategic planning and command philosophy were already in place." said Col. Glenn Dickenson, Stuttgart garrison commander, about his community winning gold.

The silver winner was Fort Rucker, Alabama, home of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and the aviation branch. USAG Rucker hosts the largest helicopter flight training mission in the world, along with the myriad missions of 40 tenant organizations. The garrison staff credited their award to an integrated management system based on the Malcolm Baldrige framework.

USAG Wainwright, Alaska and USAG Fort McCoy, Wisconsin both were recognized with bronze awards.

USAG Daegu and USAG Fort Drum received honorable mentions.

NATIONAL GUARD WINNERS

The South Dakota National Guard was the gold recipient for their category after being runner-up last year. According to their adjutant's general, Lt. Gen. Maj. Gen. Timothy Reisch, their goal was to take lessons learned and apply them to this year's competition. Their group had the largest number of attendees at the ceremony.

"This was a true team effort from all the directorates from senior staff to their teams. I wanted to bring them all here to recognize their efforts," said Reisch. "This competition is about readiness. If you apply the principles and put them into practice, you'll learn that the investment has been very well placed."

Reisch added that their unit will submit another packet next year to keep them "sharp" although they are ineligible to compete on the Army level.

The North Carolina Army National Guard took the silver award.

The Indiana Army National Guard won bronze, and the Vermont Guard took honorable mention.

ARMY RESERVE WINNERS

The 88th Regional Support Command in Wisconsin took gold as a repeat winner in the Army Reserve category. The team has been using the Baldrige principles since standing up their command in 2008.

"We were fortunate to have our command stood up on the Baldrige principles, which gave us a head start in this competition and we've won every year that we've been eligible," said Thomas Helgeson, deputy director of Public Works, for the 88th RSC.

"It's never about the award for any of us and we are competing to make the organization better," he said. "It's an affirmation that if we do a good job, we're going to get recognized."

Helgeson is also the unit's ACOE program manager and makes it a point to share lessons learned with other Reserve units to help make the Army Reserve as a whole better. The unique challenge they face is being geographically dispersed across 19 states with elements located on active installations.

The Army Reserve silver award went to the 1st Mission Support Command at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico. It provides support to 35 units across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Island.

ACOE is sponsored by the chief of staff of the Army, and overseen by the assistant chief of staff for Installation Management. During a year-long process, ACOE applicants are assessed and evaluated against Army priorities and the Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence.

Since 1989, the ACOE program has recognized Army communities for their commitment to providing quality services and excellent support to readiness.

The ACOE awards competition goes beyond the trophy, ribbon, and monetary award, several of the winners said. The competition is about strengthening the readiness of the Army, they said, by investing in the communities that support Soldiers, their families, civilians and their local partners.

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