By Julie Piron, USAG Benelux Public AffairsJuly 9, 2018
CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- After 22 years in the Army, Col. Sean Hunt Kuester's career has taken him and his family to the U.S. Army Garrison Benelux where he officially took command June 29.
Kuester is an Armor officer who served at SHAPE in the Comprehensive Crisis and Operations Management Center from 2015 to 2017, in a 12-person team from nine different countries.
The eclectic environment fostered his interest for the diversity of the communities. This open-minded approach will be one of Kuester's tools to lead our dispersed garrison. "We may be working at different sites in different roles, but the reality is all our efforts contribute to the same mission…Strong Europe," emphasized Kuester.
"I'm amazed at the work and accomplishments achieved by the Benelux Team," said Kuester. "I believe that with teamwork there is very little we can't do. I believe that in the context of a U.S. Army garrison it is vital for each employee to realize that every single team is part of another team and that no team is an island. We all need each other," he added.
In order to keep a cohesive team, Kuester plans on "earning trust over time by being present, engaging with the teams, being genuine, demonstrating competence, giving loyalty to the subordinates and remaining compassionate for their people."
Kuester describes his ideal workplace as "an environment of collegiality and even fun" and further defines his leader's duty as "being positive and optimistic, to build and sustain a climate where people can thrive versus merely trying to survive."
After only a week at the garrison, Kuester has already been exposed to some of the garrison's challenges and finds himself "fully confident in the existing plans and priorities built by the Benelux staff."
Army Col. Kurt Connell, outgoing commander who is now PCSing to Yongsan, South Korea, had already established with his team the three broad priorities of the garrison: Force Protection, Infrastructure development and sustainment, and sustained personnel readiness through delivery of support to service members and families. "For now, my intent is to proceed along the outstanding path developed under Col. Kurt Connell's leadership," said Kuester.
Hitting the ground running, Kuester has already started what he calls his "traveling and listening tour" in order to meet each team member of the Benelux. Stressing the importance of teamwork and empowering people, Kuester also highlights his will to get to know people.
"I would like to meet every single person that's part of the Benelux. I would like to hear their ideas about work concerning what works well and what might be improved. I will do my level best to learn everyone's name -- it may take me a few attempts though, so please be patient," Kuester concluded.