Former Army Colonel Continues to Serve at 1st TSC
Although they only make up a small fraction of the ranks, Army civilians make a daily impact at 1st Theater Sustainment Command (TSC).
One of those civilians, Richard Parker, senior operations supervisor, 1st TSC, spent more than 28 years on active duty before retiring in 2014 as a colonel. He said one of the things he enjoys about being an Army civilian is being able to work with Soldiers every day.
"It's good, because as a former Soldier, we're linked every day much closer than most of our retirees have the opportunity to be," said the Knoxville, Tenn. native. "It is a privilege to continue to serve the nation and our green-suiters, and I'm glad to have the opportunity."
As the senior Army civilian in the G-3 Directorate (Operations), Parker's primary role and function is synchronizing operations and information across multiple branches and departments within the command headquarters at Fort Knox. He also ensures information is shared with the forward-deployed Operational Command Post (OCP) in Kuwait and with deployed units.
Col. James Peckham, assistant chief of staff, G-3 (Operations), 1st TSC, said Parker is crucial to the success of his staff.
"Mr. Parker brings continuity," Peckham said. "That's one thing that's hard in an organization that turns over every 12 to 18 months; you get a fresh new batch of officers in here who are quickly trying to get caught up to speed and what Mr. Parker provides is that level of comfort knowing that nothing is getting dropped."
Before retiring in 2014, Parker served as the director of plans and operations, G-3, at the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command and as J-3 at Joint Sustainment Command-Afghanistan.
Parker said his duties there were are almost identical to what he does now.
"We have similar operations that we are planning for now," Parker said. "While I was still on active duty, [we] went through the exact same operations in an earlier version."
So it helps to have been deployed in a similar environment, working on basically the same problem sets in a new era, a new time, because there are certain things that we will revisit," he added.
Many who come to 1st TSC don't have the experience of having been assigned to a theater sustainment command before. Parker said this is where civilians can assist by helping new Soldiers assimilate into the organization.
"Typically our civilians have been in the organization fulfilling their roles, responsibilities and functions longer than our Soldiers, officers and our warrant officers have," he said. "Your civilians that have been here a while can help coach, teach and mentor our new green-suiters, our Soldiers who are deploying into our command, because they haven't ever served at this level."
Coaching, teaching and mentoring Soldiers and civilians, is something that Parker still makes time for, even though he no longer puts on a uniform.
"If you see individuals who are searching and seeking out how to do things, rather than make them struggle all the time, it's very appropriate to step in and show them techniques, tactics and procedures that have worked in the past or help them find information or knowledge that they may not know exists or has already been done in the past," Parker said.
Parker added that civilians are every bit a part of the team as the uniformed personnel.
"Our civilians are here to enable this command to facilitate our mission success; that's what we bring to the table every day," he said. "If we fail to do something, if our officers, our NCO's [noncommissioned officers] or warrant officers or CG [commanding general] fail at our mission, the civilians fail as well, because it's all one team."