Lt. Col. Samuel Morgan
Lt. Col. Samuel Morgan (Photo Credit: JESSE GLASS) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Picatinny Arsenal garrison will undergo a leadership change during a change-of-command ceremony on June 17. Lt. Col. Samuel Morgan will relinquish command to the incoming garrison commander, Lt. Col. Adam Woytowich, and due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event will break from a traditional change-of-command ceremony and be seen by most on Picatinny social media.

Morgan recently reflected on his tenure at Picatinny, beginning with his arrival in the Spring of 2018.

“I had heard of Picatinny Arsenal because I grew up in New Jersey,” the outgoing commander said as he recalled learning of his pending assignment two years ago. “I was aware of Picatinny, but I didn’t know where in New Jersey it was exactly.”

When Morgan put boots to the ground, he immediately got to work, but quickly came to terms with the fact that Rome wasn’t built in a day. He worked closely with the garrison directorates to address the installation’s key concerns.

“As far as expectation management, I understand as a commander that I’m not going to fix everything,” Morgan said. “There are one or two projects that a commander is going to focus on addressing. It’s just kind of the nature of the beast and you expect that you are not going to be able to get after all those things.”

The garrison commander position is often referred to that of a town’s mayor. He or she is the focal point, the public-facing leader that responds to the public’s concerns. Just as municipal mayors are tasked with overseeing various departments and functions to keep the town moving forward, the commander does the same for the garrison.

One example relates to a program that is not operated by the garrison, but it impacts the way many Picatinny employees travel to and from the installation. The Mass Transit Benefit Program saw a move from the Logistics Command to being tenant funded and managed by a contractor. Benefits remained the same, but during the transition there were concerns that were brought to the garrison leadership, placing Morgan as the voice to the workforce.

“That was one of those issues where in a ‘Mayoral’ type position that the garrison commander is, I have to understand the concerns from the workforce and residents,” Morgan said. “I have to work with partners on creative solutions.”

One of Morgan’s biggest challenges was managing shifting and shrinking budgets. “We’ve experience cost reduction whether it is personnel or manning within the garrison,” said Morgan. “In the grand scheme of things it is what is best for the Army. There is a finite amount of funding.

“In order to fund future programs, the Army has to make tough decisions,” Morgan explained. “Sometimes those decisions entail cuts to certain programs or projects. That’s not unique to the garrison. But, we are a high performing team, so you have to be adaptive.”

As with several previous commanders, Morgan is an avid sportsman, partaking in outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing. While out and about on the installation, the garrison commander would often bring a camera to capture the sights. One of his photos, angled perfectly, made a snapping turtle appear to be larger than life, launching the picture into “viral” status on social media, and even attracted the interest of local media outlets.

Morgan leaves Picatinny to continue his education, part of a requirement to help further his career in the Army. He was selected to go to the Naval War College which helps develop the military’s strategic and operational leaders.

“On a personal level, because I love Picatinny, I love the assignment and the people I have worked with, I would love to stay longer,” Morgan said.

Unlike in many instances where the incoming commander doesn’t have much time on the installation before taking over, Woytowich arrived a few weeks early and has been working with Morgan to get a feel for the reigns.

“I think he’s going to be a great commander for Picatinny,” Morgan said of his replacement in Woytowich. “He’s a Special Forces officer, so by that very nature, he’s going to have strengths, one being interpersonal skills. I think that’s the key thing as it relates to being a garrison commander, having those interpersonal skills.

“You are not going to be an expert in every mission that is out there. You have to build consensus with your teammates across the installation,” Morgan said. “They don’t work for you, but yet you need them to comply with things that the Army wants or is trying to get done. I think that is an important skill and is one that I think he is going to bring to the table.”

“If I had to over some advice, it would be ‘just listen,’ Morgan said in response to what messaging he would like to offer Woytowich. “Understanding what the problem is and trying to get to the root cause is key. We grew up in a culture where we are not saying ‘no’ to folks, we are trying to find a way to get to the ‘yes’ but we have to understand the problem a little bit better. Sometimes there is a little negotiation that goes with that: ‘Now that I understand your problem, here is where I need support or help to go with that.’”