SAN ANTONIO, Texas ─ In his first official event representing U.S. Army Installation Management Command to an external audience, Lt. Gen. Douglas Gabram, IMCOM commanding general, described actions the Army is taking to strengthen Soldier, Family and Civilian readiness.
Gabram, who assumed command of IMCOM Jan. 22, addressed a group of Army, business and civic leaders Feb. 10 at the Association of Defense Communities' "Installation Innovation Forum 2020" in San Antonio.
He spoke about actions the Army is taking to drastically improve services in four areas identified by Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville as Quality of Life priorities which fall under IMCOM's portfolio: housing, childcare, spouse employment and PCS moves.
Gabram praised the mutual alignment of Army Materiel Command, IMCOM and the Association of Defense Communities. ADC works to advance issues that build strong communities and support the military, and they also share a focus on improving quality of life for Soldiers and their Families.
"This conference brings the right people together to address these issues, and this week is a great opportunity to make the connections and build the relationships that will make that happen," said Gabram.
He then described the strategic support area, the way in which Army installations are viewed in the emerging doctrine of multi-domain operations.
The Army recognizes U.S. adversaries will try to harass, interdict, or even directly attack installations during mobilization and deployment operations, said Gabram. One way to strengthen communities for this future is to work now to develop partnerships and build relationships between military personnel and their Families on the installation and the business and civic leaders in the cities and towns that surround them.
Installation Management Command is focusing on several important tactical issues, Gabram said. Noting that tactical missteps can have strategic consequences, he said together we will lead a collective effort to fix them in order to move on and to be in position to attack bigger problems for the Army.
The key to success in fixing the tactical issues are garrison commanders, who Gabram called "the center of gravity of the strategic support area."
"These tactical issues are amazingly complex and emotional," said Gabram, "and everybody in our military communities should look for ways to help their garrison commander be more effective."
He also noted the progress the Army has made in the past year to improve housing as it strives to regain the trust of Soldiers and their Families. Some points of progress in the last year were the investing of $960 million in facility upgrades, hiring additional quality assurance inspectors, new construction, standing up 24/7 hotlines at all installations, distributing several resident surveys and acting on their feedback, and personally engaging residents through multiple means including monthly town halls.
Last month, Army Materiel Command hosted a housing summit where every garrison commander and their housing company partner provided a detailed status on their housing situation, providing a clear and common picture of the tactical issues, especially displaced Families. The AMC commander conducts detailed weekly reviews of each displaced Family's situation to resolve individual problems and return Families promptly and safely to their homes. "Let there be no doubt," Gabram said, "senior leaders are engaged."
Another main topic of conversation during the conference was intergovernmental support agreements, or IGSAs. These are partnerships between installations and their surrounding municipalities that benefit both parties. These can be situations where either the Army or the municipality has a capability that, when shared, saves both from having to maintain separate systems, equipment, maintenance or staff. On average, garrison installation support service contracts that are converted to IGSAs average a 30% savings to IMCOM, Gabram said.
Several Army garrison commanders shared best practices from IGSAs on their installations.
"In my view," Gabram said, "If you are looking for an example of what right looks like when it comes to IGSAs, look no further than Presidio of Monterey," [California].
The Presidio was represented by its IGSA manager, Jeffrey Post, and George Helms, general services superintendent for the city of Monterey. The partners have agreements for everything from facilities maintenance to street sweepers, and road paving to an arborist who looks after the towering Monterey pines in and around the post.
Gabram made a special point to note, "The fact the two are here together is testament to their partnership."
Other speakers were Lt. Gen. Jason Evans, Army Deputy Chief of Staff G-9 (Installations), and Alex Beehler, Assistant Secretary of the Army Installations, Energy and Environment. They joined their U.S. Air Force counterparts on a panel discussing best practices from each service to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of installation management.
Beehler used several examples of civil-military cooperation from the host city, San Antonio, to drive home the point that this type of support has been part of the strength of the nation for decades.
Evans described how he and other Army staff are in support of Army Materiel Command and IMCOM when it comes to executing the Army Housing Campaign. This campaign provides a roadmap for the way ahead built on leader involvement, sustained focus, and increased communication. It is designed to restore trust with Soldiers and Families through providing housing that is commensurate with the quality of their service.