By Kari HawkinsSeptember 7, 2018
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Redstone Arsenal's senior commander charged a long-standing group of community leaders to harness their six decades of support and modernize to remain relevant in the future.
During a luncheon Thursday at Redstone Arsenal's Summit, Lt. Gen. Ed Daly challenged the Army Community Relations Committee to look through the lens of reform and expand its role as the installation continues to grow.
"On behalf of Redstone's senior leaders, we could not ask for a better relationship and we could not ask for you to do any more than you have done. This is a special place. People come here because of Redstone Arsenal and they don't want to leave for all the right reasons," Daly said.
"But, speaking with candor, if we want to get to the next level and remain relevant for the future, we have to do a self-assessment to see where we are vulnerable. Are we vulnerable based on BRAC criteria? We should be using BRAC criteria to make the environment of Redstone Arsenal and the local community better, not just because there might be another BRAC, but because it's the right thing to do."
The Army Community Relations Committee formed in the late 1950s to ensure favorable conditions for the future growth of Redstone Arsenal. In its early years, the committee worked on key issues such as race relations across Huntsville. In more recent years, the committee has supported Base Realignment and Closure moves that have grown Redstone Arsenal into a diverse federal center of excellence.
Daly, who is also the deputy commanding general of the Army Materiel Command, laid out three questions he hears frequently from the Redstone community: What about the community's infrastructure plan, and efforts for such amenities as more rental car companies, hotels, and better roads and highways? What guarantee is there that education programs at every level are going to meet the needs of families? Why is Redstone Arsenal a little under-appreciated in what it offers the Tennessee Valley region, in terms of the attention and visibility it gets?
The committee must partner with Redstone Arsenal to ensure a well-educated and ready workforce for the 21st century, synergistic growth in transportation and infrastructure, high quality of life, and top notch security and response efforts, Daly said.
Daly asked the committee to consider becoming more inclusive of other community leaders within the North Alabama/South Tennessee region; changing its name to reflect Redstone Arsenal's diverse tenant base and expanding its vision for what Redstone Arsenal can become in the future.
Redstone Arsenal and the Tennessee Valley are among the best areas for the military, Daly said, for a myriad of reasons.
"One of those reasons is the collaboration, professionalism, support and passion that you have for the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, Department of Justice and NASA workforce that we have here," he said. "Redstone Arsenal is an example of how you have really been relevant. Redstone Arsenal still exists, unequivocally, without a doubt, in part, because of this committee."
Among those leaders in the audience who Daly recognized, he especially thanked committee founders W.F. Sanders and Ray Jones, and those members who have been part of the committee since its beginnings.
"We appreciate what you have done to change the course and direction of the past and to bring us to where we are today. What you have done is immeasurable," Daly said.
Since Daly's first association with Redstone Arsenal in 2011 as the commandant of the Army's ordnance school at Fort Lee, Virginia, and during earlier assignments at the Army Materiel Command, he has seen the tremendous growth in both tenants and employees at the arsenal. He reviewed for the committee the worldwide mission, synchronization and integration of many of the arsenal's 80 tenants.
While the BRAC of 2005 brought many tenants to Redstone Arsenal - including Army Materiel Command, Army Contracting Command and Army Security Assistance Command, as well as expanded operations of the Missile Defense Agency - and created an installation that now boasts 16 flag officers, 120 Senior Executive Service members and 43,000 employees, Daly said the installation keeps growing.
"Redstone Arsenal was a big winner in BRAC 2005 because of your influence and because of what you have done to set the conditions," Daly said. "It made sense because Redstone met all the BRAC criteria. That couldn't have happened without everyone thinking forward."
Redstone Arsenal has a total annual statewide economic impact of $18 billion and pays taxes of $467 million per year. Its employment base creates another 60,000 jobs in the community.
"Redstone Arsenal continues to be the economic engine and driver for success in the Tennessee Valley," Daly said. "We are a mutually supportive family and we need to continue to think that way. We are inexplicably linked in many ways. Our success drives your success, and your success drives our success."
In addition, Daly told the committee members that Redstone Arsenal is embracing an innovative approach to solving problems, a more entrepreneurial spirit in providing services to the community and measures to open more of the installation to the public. He reviewed plans for Exploration Park and Redstone Gateway, and asked for the community's support for both of these developments.
The committee consists of about 50 leaders representing business, academia and government in Madison County. The committee's co-chair Mike Segrest said its long legacy of service positions it to continue to support Redstone's growth.
"This committee was formed for the purpose of solving problems and working together with the Redstone commander and the community," Segrest said. "It's a group of community leaders in place for the commander from the first day of command. Over the years, a lot of problems have been solved. Together, it has truly been a team and has worked really well."
Sanders, who is one of the committee's first co-chairs, expressed support for Daly's suggestion of modernization and reform.
"I agree 100 percent with what he said. We need to get bigger and better, and involve more people. That's what will keep us looking to the future," Sanders said.