By Rick BumgardnerApril 18, 2019
REDSTONE ARSENAL, AL -- The world of foreign military sales can be confusing with words, acronyms and definitions that are in a world all its own. So it is no surprise that when you look up the word 'dedicated' in the FMS dictionary, you might find a reference to Jerry Sims, a country program manager, at U.S. Army Security Assistance Command.
In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, dedicated is an adjective to describe a person devoted to a task or purpose; having single-minded loyalty or integrity.
"That's Jerry, he's a workhorse," said Col. Michael Morton, the European Command/Africa Command director and Jerry's last boss. "He comes in early when it's quiet and before the phones start ringing, he powers through the day and he doesn't waste time. That's what I'll miss the most, his no-nonsense approach and efficiency."
After his retirement ceremony Jerry posed for photos, ate some cake and packed up his office, carrying with him several boxes of presents, awards, a flag and a special letter from a fellow Alabamian.
In 1976, Sims was working as a reserve deputy and police officer, patrolling the small Alabama town of Talladega, about 50 miles east of Birmingham.
It's here in 1977 that he started looking for more stable employment and got the first of many jobs with the Army.
Twelve years of building tanks and managing projects at Anniston made him a natural selection to take on increased responsibilities, and a promotion. This time in quality assurance, working for the Tank and Automotive Command in Saudi Arabia.
Sims had been in country for less than a year when Iraq invaded Kuwait, starting Operation Desert Storm in 1990, followed on its heels with Desert Shield in 1991.
During the war, Sims deployed to the front lines on many occasions to help solve M-60A3 tank conversion and maintenance issues.
Following his time in the desert, Sims returned to Anniston as a quality assurance supervisor for the Anniston Defense Distribution Depot.
"When Defense Logistics Agency came and took over the supply and transportation missions, I didn't really have a job," he said.
So he did what most would do and applied for positions that looked promising.
From 1994-96 Sims supervised as many as 400 U.S. and Korean employees as the deputy director for Supply and Transportation Directorate, working for 8th Army in South Korea.
"Then USASAC hired me from Korea and promoted me, so I left Korea, and I took my family to Egypt in 1996," he said. "I spent 11 years working out of the Office of Military Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. That was a unique experience, first time working out of the embassy."
Sims stayed with USASAC, and in 2007 moved to Stuttgart, Germany, as a security cooperation specialist and liaison officer for EUCOM.
"I had been there (Germany) about 60 days when AFRICOM went to initial operating capability. I got a call that said 'tag, you are it, you've got both of them,'" Sims said.
That meant that Sims found himself suddenly having to work FMS cases for both EUCOM and AFRICOM for over two years, until a new employee could be brought in for EUCOM cases, and he could focus on AFRICOM.
Jacqueline Williams, the deputy director of EUCOM/AFRICOM regional operations at USASAC, remembers when she first hired Sims to EUCOM, and later, how he was instrumental in helping AFRICOM build its FMS program.
"They were a new command, with new staff, that didn't know what was going on in FMS," Williams said. "I really liked Jerry being over there because when he went to a meeting, he would come out and call me or send me an email. It was so detailed that it was almost like I was there. At the time, being 6-7,000 miles away, that's the kind of information I felt I needed being a new director."
It was his dedication to duty, and attention to details, that helped Jerry manage the hundreds of cases involving hundreds of millions of dollars in FMS sales, training and contracts.
After 21 years overseas, he was offered a position at USASAC headquarters, a command that he had worked in for more than 19 years.
This new position allowed him to focus on AFRICOM, where he was responsible for over 140 FMS cases, building partner capacity projects and training cases that involved the State Department, plus he worked on cases as the CPM for Uganda, Burundi and Ethiopia.
After his departure in March, Sims reflected on his long career and offered words of wisdom for those who follow in his footsteps at USASAC.
"Don't be afraid to challenge yourself or move more than 500 miles from the nearest Walmart. Be mobile, get all the training and education you can get, protect your organization and leadership. It might be cliché, but live the Army values. To those I would add to be honest and have humility," he said.
Ms. Williams knew when she said goodbye, it was not only to a friend and colleague, but to a vast storehouse of knowledge gained over decades of FMS exposure.
"Jerry knew his job and knew quite a lot of other folks' jobs too," Williams said. "He could tell you regulation and laws associated with any decision or case we ran across. He could do so many jobs. He would have been great in policy, a great liaison officer, and he could have worked at Defense Security Cooperation Agency, or at the Pentagon. It's a tremendous loss to the organization."
When Sims walked out of USASAC headquarters at the end of March, he carried with him a letter, a special gift from Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, which spoke of Jerry Sims' 42 years of dedicated service.