ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md.- In preparation for the upcoming summer relocation of more than 700 Fort Monmouth employees, Col. Augustus Owens, deputy commander of CECOM Life Cycle Management Command (Forward), held a town hall meeting March 25 at the Edgewood Conference Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Employees slated to leave Fort Monmouth, N.J., as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure law implementation attended the meeting via video teleconferencing from APG. Approximately 50 prospective advanced party volunteers at Fort Monmouth viewed the meeting. Community representatives presented information to employees about local schools, housing markets, extra-curricular activities, banking services, legal services, motor vehicle registrations and licensing, temporary lodging and health care.

"We are aiming to make the transition to APG [Aberdeen Proving Ground] smoother by bringing information about the local community to the employees," said Lorie Moses, administrative operations officer, CECOM LCMC (Forward).

This was the second Army Team C4ISR (Forward), or Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Forward, town hall meeting, according to Moses. The first meeting was conducted by Maj. Gen. Dennis L. Via, commanding general, CECOM LCMC.

"We want our relocating employees to know that they are not alone," said Owens. "My first priority is taking care of our workforce." Owens refers to the Army Team C4ISR (Forward) workforce as being 'pioneers' because they are the first employees to arrive at APG in order to prepare the rest of the organization for the BRAC move.

"We operate in a series of crawl, walk, run phases," said Owens. This summer Owens said the command will be in the 'run' phase as it welcomes approximately 700 employees between now and the end of the year. As 2011 nears, the numbers will increase exponentially. With a little more than 350 CECOM LCMC employees now on the ground here at APG, Owens and his team are working to establish a new culture of synergy among C4ISR team members. Presently, many Army Team C4ISR employees are working in the same building, just as they will in 2010 when the Team begins to move into the $477 million dollar Army C4ISR Campus 1 facility on APG-North.

"We are a team," said Owens, "and that's how we operate here. We are responsible for establishing new processes and with that, we foster an environment of information sharing and team work." Owens compared the CECOM LCMC Forward operation to that of a military Forward Operating Base. "When Soldiers deploy, they are responsible for building an organization from the ground up. That's what we are doing here," he said. Army Team C4ISR employees are serving in innovative roles as they shape a new culture before moving into the new building.

In contrast to Fort Monmouth, the C4ISR employees will inhabit nine buildings after the BRAC move is completed, compared to the 40 to 50 buildings used by employees at Fort Monmouth. "It's about creating a close-knit community," said Owens. "Working closely will increase synergy and collaboration within our organization. Ultimately, our end user-the Soldier- will benefit by us working together."

As employees relocate in the coming months, the Forward Command Group will continue to host a variety of events to facilitate the move through weekly Fireside Chats, bi-weekly in-processing orientations, monthly meet and greet events, monthly field trips to the construction site of the new facility, and quarterly town hall meetings. The command also has a sponsorship program where Army Team C4ISR APG employees are matched with a relocating employee with similar interests and circumstances.

"It's been a real success," said Karen Quinn-Doggett, CECOM LCMC (Forward) assistant to the deputy commander. "Ninety-seven percent of those who received sponsors recommend that newcomers request a sponsor." She said the program tries to not only assimilate newcomers with APG, but also introduce them to the surrounding communities.

At the close of the town hall meeting, employees were given the opportunity to ask questions to a panel of community representatives. One employee who moved from Fort Monmouth volunteered to share some of his experiences and lessons learned with the audience.

"I know what it's like to make this move, so I wanted to give others the benefit of my experiences," said Mike Valdez, Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications, Tactical. "The amount of information they gave here was helpful. I recommend that relocating employees take advantage of the bus trips and tours this area offers."

Valdez was one of the last volunteers to move in fiscal year 2008. Before his move at the end of September 2008, he made several visits to the area. He said in hindsight, "It's not as stressful as everyone thinks it is. I think people planning to purchase a home should decide how much they want to spend before they move, and stand their ground with the realtor. That's my best advice." Valdez is currently serving in the sponsorship program to help others who are making the move.

"Our goal is to have a seamless transition in the eyes of the Warfighter. At the end of the day, we don't want any disruption to our mission," said Owens.

The next town hall meeting will be scheduled for June. More information will be provided via email as the date approaches.