With an assignment that started Jan. 5, 2018, in the midst of a blizzard and concludes during a global pandemic, Brig. Gen. Vincent Malone’s time as the Senior Commander of the Natick Soldier Systems Center (NSSC) has seen its fair share of obstacles.
Malone, who concurrently served as the deputy commanding general for the Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command, is moving on to Picatinny Arsenal, NJ, where he will be the senior commander for the installation and the Joint Program Executive Officer for Armaments and Ammunition.
Despite the challenges his command encountered, Malone reflected on his time as senior commander with pride in the accomplishments that took place during his tenure, and particularly in the installation’s response to COVID-19.
“The Garrison command team quickly spearheaded our response, leaders embraced telework, and the workforce adopted social distancing measures,” Malone said. “We have been fortunate that there has been no significant outbreak on the installation.
“Unfortunately we … lost a family member of a Natick employee,” the general continued. “It is a reminder to us all that we have to continue to be vigilant, even as we plan for an eventual return to work.”
In addition to the installation’s COVID-19 response, Malone emphasized NSSC’s modernization and growth as highlights of his tour.
“The Army has made significant investments in Natick,” said Malone. “The S2PRINT building represents $50 million investment in this installation. The family housing that we see being constructed as we come to post represents close to $30 million, and there are a lot of smaller projects that brings our construction investment even higher. Our senior leaders recognize that it is Team Natick that puts the ‘Science Behind The Soldier’.”
Some other investments in the installation include the expansion of facilities for the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine and significant facelifts to the decades’ old building facades and fire prevention systems.
As the senior commander of the only Active-Duty Army installation in the six New England states, the general had many opportunities to represent the Army throughout New England, leaving him with equally fond memories of his interactions in the community.
“You can’t live in New England and not gain an appreciation for the patriotism of the people in this region,” said Malone. “The Memorial Day ceremony honoring the Gold Star Families on Boston Common - the picture of the Common filled with flags is unforgettable. It’s the screen saver on my phone. It is a great reminder of the sacrifices Soldiers and their families have made throughout our history.”
“What stands out to me the most (are) the local parades on Memorial and Veterans Day,” said Malone. “Seeing the Veterans, shaking hands with the Veterans, and even getting salutes from Veterans ranging from World War II to the current wars we are fighting - that is what stands out. Those memories will always be special to me.”
While treasuring his memories of his time at Natick, the general is looking forward to his next opportunity to serve at Picatinny Arsenal.
“I’ll be joining another great team at Picatinny,” said Malone. “Just as Natick’s expertise is the Soldier, Picatinny’s expertise is armaments and ammunition. I will also have the opportunity to serve as the Senior Commander. I believe that my experience here at Natick, working together as a team in supporting not just Soldiers, but all warfighters, has prepared me well to serve as the senior commander at Picatinny Arsenal.
As he looked forward to his next assignment, Malone had one word of advice for his successor, Brig. Gen. James P. Bienlien.
“Don’t let the size of this installation deceive you,” said Malone. “There is so much going on in a very small footprint. Get out, meet the workforce and gain an appreciation for the mission here.”