PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - The commanding general for Picatinny Arsenal, Brig. Gen. Alfred F. Abramson III, held a wide-ranging installation town hall on Jan. 17 in the Lindner Conference Center.
Abramson, along with supporting staff members from various tenant organizations, provided updates at the Arsenal's first installation-wide meeting of the new year.
"This is a good opportunity to kind of sync what is going on--on the installation and around the community," Abramson said before briefly addressing the pending change in command and transition to U.S. Army Futures Command.
"We will be intricately involved in bringing capabilities to the warfighter," Abramson said of Picatinny's mission as it relates to supporting the Army's modernization priority.
The new Army Futures Command (AFC) was activated on Aug. 24, 2018, to unify the Army's modernization efforts. Gen. John M. Murray leads the new, four-star command.
The largest tenant organization at Picatinny Arsenal--the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC)--became part of the new Futures Command with the transition into AFC of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), to which ARDEC reports.
RDECOM officially became part of the Army Futures Command on Feb. 3.
Upon reassignment, RDECOM was designated the Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC), which will comprise eight major and three international centers and laboratories Under the new command structure, the former ARDEC is now the Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center.
Abramson urged employees to let the transition play out, suggesting that things will naturally fall into place.
"Just because your particular program is not directly tied to a CFT effort, does not mean that your project or program will not be funded or prioritized," Abramson said.
The general then took a brief moment to discuss the collection of Interactive Customer Evaluation (ICE) comments. "We look at those ICE comments and we take action on those ICE comments."
Twenty-seven runners who represented Team Picatinny were congratulated and recognized for their participation in the Army Ten-Miler that was held Oct. 7, 2018, in Washington D.C.
Maj. Laura Beach was the fastest female competitor from the team, coming in at 1:15:41, while Aldous Strother came in as the fastest male team member at 1:08:13.
Steve Flatt, President of the Picatinny Arsenal Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Middle-Forge Chapter, was recognized for the organization's contributions to installation functions and events.
"There are a lot of things that we could not do on this installation or in the community if it were not for him and his organization," Abramson said of Flatt.
"Through all your dedicated efforts and selfless service, you find innovative ways to support all our tenant organizations and improve the quality of life for our service members, their families, and our civilian workforce," the general continued.
Paul Bishop, Inspector General , U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM), introduced Michael Ackerman and Mark Borawski, who are now working in the IG position here at U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) but report to RDECOM.
Lt. Col. Samuel Morgan III, Picatinny Arsenal garrison commander, spoke about budget constraints at the garrison.
Morgan said many forthcoming budget cuts that would surely affect the installation and garrison- related services.
"The garrison is going to lose personnel," Morgan said.
"We have about a five percent cut coming. There were services that you may have been accustomed to in the past that we may not be able to provide, or at least not in the same capacity, in the future."
Morgan's message was not a surprise. The U.S. Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM) has experienced budget reductions over the past few years. Simple services such as lawn care or snow removal may be the most noticeable or apparent changes, as funds allocated to those areas will be lower.
"What is really comes down to is 'doing less, with less.' We have to reduce the budget by $1.84 million," Morgan said.
The garrison commander stressed that employees can help reduce energy consumption by simply turning off computers and light switches when not in use.
Morgan's "every penny counts" message may prevail for some time, since there is no indication as to when or if funding will improve the near future.
"Infrastructure is our number one priority, and then the second is protection," Morgan said.
"One way you can help, is to communicate to senior leaders that visit here, that the garrison needs more money to sustain the readiness of our aging infrastructure."
MASS TRANSIT BENEFIT PROGRAM
Chris Wagner of the Plans and Operations Logistics Readiness Center provided a quick update on the Mass Transit Benefit Program.
According to Wagner, there will be no change in policy, and employees participating will still receive benefits, but the program will transition away from the readiness center and become more self-serve.
"We are continuing to provide that service to you until 2020," Wagner said.
"In 2020, van pool coordinators will have to coordinate with the Department of Transportation and van pool companies on your own."
"We are going to provide standard operating procedures on how to start that process. Come 2020, everyone should be able to manage their own vans," Wagner said.
MASS WARNING NOTIFICATION SYSTEM
Fortunato Rubio Jr., director of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, talked about the installation's mass warning notification system.
"ATHOC is our current system," Rubio said.
"That is how we communicate and get notifications to all of you."
Rubio asked employees to ensure that their information was accurate and current because the information will eventually be transferred to a new program in the coming years.
"Headquarters Department of the Army has required that all installations use the same mass notification system called 'ALERT', Rubio said. February 2020 is the target timeframe for the new system to be in place.
UNAUTHORIZED/UNPERMITTED WORK SAFETY
Larry Taylor, from ARDEC's Risk Management Office, reminded everyone that unauthorized or unpermitted work is a serious violation of safety that could result in injury or death. Taylor said employees should not attempt to alter any equipment on their own.
"Modifications of equipment and buildings or facilities without approvals or certifications can result in serious consequences to you and your agency as well as damage to federal property."
Taylor also reminded everyone that slips, trips, and falls, are still the most significant causes of workplace injuries.
"Be conscious of the area you are entering," Taylor said, adding that employees should ensure that they have the appropriate footwear for their work environments.
INSTALLATION INFRASTRUCTURE EFFORTS
Richard Havrisko, director of Public Works, noted the abundance of large container boxes (CONEX) on the installation and the need to identify their owners.
"We are working to move the CONEX boxes into CONEX box lots. There are a bunch out there that we do not know who the owner is. Everyone's CONEX box needs to be registered with Public Works by March," Havrisko said.
If you are the owner of a box or know someone who is, have them contact the Public Works Directorate.
CAC CARD OFFICE WILL TEMPORARILY CLOSE
The Common Access Card (CAC) office will be closed from April 8 to 12 as it relocates to building 3225. During that time operators, will troubleshoot any issues that result from the move, and hope to be completely operational once the office reopens. During the relocation, assistance can be obtained from Forts Hamilton and Dix, Tobyhanna, and West Point.
Corrine Matteson, director of the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center, confirmed that there will be no 2019 pay adjustments due to a freeze that President Donald Trump signed in December. The president's executive order froze federal pay tables at the 2018 rate.
QUALITY OF LIFE
MWR Andrew Ciccolella, director of Picatinny's Family Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (FMWR) Directorate, talked about some of the noticeable changes coming in 2019.
"We are in a bit of transition in IMCOM and, if you can imagine, like Lt. Col. Morgan said, if we are constrained in our budget for facilities upgrades and infrastructure, you can imagine we are constrained for things like ball clubs and aquatic parks," Ciccolella said.
Under current budget conditions, it is unlikely that any MWR facilities will be receiving significant facelifts during the 2019 calendar year.
"Frog Falls Aquatic Park will soon be open for 2019 memberships," Ciccollela said.
"The golf course is earmarked to be open April 1, weather permitting." Changes to food service are also coming, also, as patrons will now be able to order ahead online at select eateries on the installation.
"Sam Adam's Pub now has online ordering to help reduce wait time. ArsenalEats.com is the website," Ciccolella said.
The plan is to soon expand the service to the Gunpowder Grill. "Every dollar that is spent on Picatinny Arsenal stays within Picatinny Arsenal to help improvement of life," Ciccolella said in closing.
Lt. Col. Lyle Shackelford introduced himself as the installation's new chaplain. He replaces Lt. Col. Terrance Walsh, who retired in December.
"I'm just getting in the door. Catholic services are up and running. We are kind of in a crawl, walk, run stage," Shackelford said.