By Kari Hawkins, Redstone Rocket StaffJune 23, 2009
Thanks to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, Col. Jeff Young has found a home in Huntsville.
This Georgia-born Soldier has been all around the world during his 25-year career -- working in 16 different countries, moving his family 17 times and taking on assignments in both the Army's armor and logistics branches.
In 2007-08, Young oversaw the building of the $9.4 million, 25,000-square-foot headquarters of the 2nd Recruiting Brigade at Redstone Arsenal, a project that was part of the 2005 BRAC Commission recommendations. As deputy commander, Young assisted with the transfer of the brigade headquarters to the Arsenal with the grand opening of its new facility in the fall of 2008, making it the first BRAC-related move to the Arsenal. Recently, he assumed the responsibilities of chief of staff for the Aviation and Missile Command, following the retirement of Col. Tom Newman.
And he and his family have made Huntsville home.
"My wife, Susan, is a quintessential military wife," Young said. "She loves to travel. She doesn't see moving as a problem. She sees it as an opportunity.
"But we love Huntsville and we will eventually retire here. We are moving my 83-year-old parents from south Georgia to Huntsville. We are building a house here. Huntsville is a good transitional place geographically with the river valley and mountains and the territorial waterway for migrating ducks."
Those ducks - along with the area's abundant deer, turkey, dove and quail -- have made Huntsville, Redstone Arsenal and north Alabama a good choice for this avid hunter. The area has also become a good choice for his wife, who has grown to love Huntsville as she's become familiar with the area; daughter Ashley, who attends the University of Alabama-Huntsville and is a summer hire at the Garrison; and son Ryan, who is a third-year lifeguard with FMWR, and who recently graduated from Columbia High and plans to attend Calhoun Community College this fall.
While his family settles down in their new hometown, Young is concentrating on the new challenges and opportunities of being the chief of staff for a life cycle management command charged with research, development, prototyping, producing, fielding and sustaining the Army's aviation and missile systems. He leads the day-to-day activities of an AMCOM work force of more than 9,000 people with an annual budget in excess of $22 billion.
"This is the longest breath and scope job I've had in my career. It's huge," he said. "It was humbling following a 30-year career guy like Tom Newman.
"The seniority, experience and professionalism of all of the LCMC staff is quite amazing. They make this job so much easier."
Young is responsible for coordinating the AMCOM executive staff in achieving the goals of AMCOM and the Army Materiel Command.
"It's more complex because we are a life cycle management command that includes the program executive offices of aviation, and missiles and space, and the AMRDEC (Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center) and the contracting command," he said.
"We have a lot of professionals in this who do not directly work for us but who are part of us. My job is to work to keep the communication channels open and to ensure our coordinated efforts so that our Soldiers in the field are being taken care of."
This is not Young's first time in a management role of a command. Among his many leadership roles, this decorated Desert Shield/Storm veteran has served as executive officer for the 47th Forward Support Battalion in Bosnia and the 200th Theater Materiel Management Center, as commander of the Defense Distribution Depot-Europe and as deputy commander of the 2nd Recruiting Brigade.
"I understand how to run large, complex staffs that are geographically dispersed," he said. "But this is the first time I've coordinated across multiple command channels. The people I work with are so good at what they do that it constantly reminds me that the strength of the team is so much stronger than the strength of one individual."
Young comes from a strong military family that includes pre-Civil War, World War II and Korean War veterans. His father is retired military.
"I'm the first colonel in the family since the Civil War. We've mostly been non-commissioned officers," he said.
Young is a 1984 graduate of the Army ROTC program at Auburn University.
"I was really into team sports in college. A friend of mine who was in ROTC and whose father was a colonel said 'Jeff, this is just like playing on a ball team. You'd love it. You're a natural leader,'" Young recalled. "I was offered an ROTC scholarship and I haven't looked back since."
He began his military career as an armor officer, serving in various roles, including tank platoon leader, tank company executive officer, mortar platoon leader and battalion leader. In 1989, he transferred to the Quartermaster Corps (logistics) and was assigned to the 1st Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., and was immediately deployed to Southwest Asia. During Operation Desert Shield/Storm, Young served as an operations officer for the 528th Special Operations Support Battalion in support of the Joint Special Operations Task Force. In 1991, he returned to Fort Bragg and served the Special Operations Command in a variety of positions.
In 1997, Young returned to Europe to serve the 21st Theater Army Area Command as chief of maintenance. In 1998, he was reassigned to the 1st Armored Division and served as the executive officer of the 47th in Bosnia and then back to Europe as the executive officer for the 200th. He commanded the Defense Distribution Depot-Europe and then returned to the U.S. as the operations officer for the Southeast Region of the Installation Management Agency. From there, he was assigned to the 2nd Recruiting Brigade and then to AMCOM.
"There's a lot of diversity in what I've done and I think that will help me in this job," Young said. "I've been all over the world. I've jumped out of airplanes, and worked with foreign military and leaders in 15 or 16 different countries. I've had great mentors who have taught me about discipline and leadership."
Young's service has earned him a Bronze Star; the Legion of Merit, the Joint Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal; Master Parachutist Badge; Parachute Rigger Badge; and Australian, German, French, South African and Dutch Parachutist Badges.
Besides leadership opportunities, Young's career has also been interspersed with educational opportunities. He has master's degrees in logistics management and strategic studies, and has graduated from the Armor Officer Basic Course, Quartermaster Officer Advanced Course, Aerial Delivery and Materiel Officers Course, Logistics Executive Development Course, Command and General Staff College and the Air Force Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base.
"The Army is in the business of training leaders, of developing leaders," he said. "The Army gives opportunities at an early age to manage large resources of people, equipment and money. The Army is constantly leading Soldiers into management and leadership."
The key to being successful in his new chief of staff position, Young said, is to "trust the staff and to help them develop good courses of action and allow them the flexibility to do their job. Being a chief of staff is about managing resources - money, people, physical properties and programs - so that the commander's mission, philosophy and guidance is translated into the command's programs."
Throughout his military career and then as deputy commander of a recruiting brigade, Young has talked to many young people about the opportunities to serve their nation.
"If they are interested in the military, I first tell them to figure out a way they can serve their country, whether that's in or out of the military," he said. "They need to be dedicated to something bigger than themselves.
"If the military meets their vision of what they want to do with their life and how they want to serve, that's all the better. There are a lot of service organizations out there and they should focus on an organization of their choice that will let them give back to their country. Not everybody is born with a warrior spirit. Not everyone is meant to serve in the military. But everyone can find a place to serve and give back to their nation."
For Young, serving Soldiers is his way of giving back to the nation.