By Paul Levesque, ASC Public Affairs
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. – To those gathered at the conference room table here and dialing in from remote locations, the message from the U.S. Army Materiel Command’s top leader came through loud and clear: Project Inclusion is a top priority, and is here for the long run.
Gen. Ed Daly, AMC’s commanding general, led a lengthy discussion of Project Inclusion at a briefing held during his quarterly visit to the U.S. Army Sustainment Command, which is headquartered at RIA. The Aug. 11 visit by Daly, who commanded ASC from August 2016 through July 2017, was his first to Rock Island since becoming AMC’s CG in July. Daly was accompanied on the visit by AMC Command Sgt. Maj. Alberto Delgado.
Project Inclusion is a holistic Army-wide effort to promote equity, diversity and inclusion at all locations and among all ranks, grades and levels. The project includes initiatives such training, listening sessions, and reviews of promotion policies and practices, with the intent to eliminate institutional barriers that can hinder individual development and advancement.
Though Project Inclusion began earlier this year, Daly told ASC’s leaders that the Army’s leadership has made it a priority and expects it to continue beyond their tenures.
“This is not a flash in the pan,” Daly said of Project Inclusion. “This will and should go on in perpetuity. It will require a constant effort on our part, and on the part of those who come after us.”
Daly cited studies showing that organizations with a high degree of diversity are more efficient and more effective at carrying out their missions.
“Diversity truly is a source of strength,” Daly said. “So we’re doing this because it’s important, and because it makes a difference.”
Maj. Gen. Daniel Mitchell, commanding general of ASC, told Daly that the command was reviewing its workforce demographics and identifying “hot spots” where diversity was lacking. Mitchell also sent out a command-wide message on Project Inclusion that he said was well-received, and added that listening sessions were being held throughout ASC, including one that he had led.
Daly said that listening sessions can be of great value when it comes to guiding change, but that they needed to be conducted carefully to assure an open and honest dialogue.
“The people who lead and participate in these discussions need to be willing to engage in uncomfortable conversations,” Daly said. “That’s necessary if we really want to use this to make a difference.”
Daly agreed with briefing participants who stated that expanded training and mentoring opportunities, and hiring and promotion practices that are more open and transparent, were keys to the success of Project Inclusion.
Pointing to his own background growing up in a racially and ethnically diverse neighborhood in Jersey City, N.J., Daly said that Project Inclusion was personally important to him.
“It’s going to take time, but we need to keep making progress,” Daly said. “This can’t just be an old program under a new name. Our people are watching, and we’ll lose credibility if we say we’re going to do something and then nothing really gets done.”
Much of the remainder of the briefing focused on ASC’s global Army Prepositioned Stocks mission, and on projects to construct new APS storage facilities and modernize and improve existing facilities. The use of APS facilities and equipment in training exercises was also highlighted.
Daly noted that the APS mission should be tied closely to the Army’s overall strategy, and that changes in APS should be made with geopolitical considerations in mind.
At the conclusion of the briefing, Daly praised ASC for the command’s focus on strategic readiness.
“There’s some fantastic work being done by the team at ASC,” Daly said. “I saw it when I was here, and now I see it as the AMC commanding general. You are unsung heroes, and you’re making a difference in the readiness of the Army.”
Six of ASC’s “unsung heroes” were recognized by Daly before the briefing. The individuals who received AMC commander’s coins and certificates were:
• Ann Fennelly, a program specialist in G-1 who gathered and compiled recruiting data during a “surge” to hire more employees for ASC’s household goods mission.
• Capt. Jon Vallone of G-1, who served as the point person on the travel waiver process necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.
• Jim Coffman, deputy executive director of the Acquisition, Integration and Management Center, and John Wyrwas, an AIM logistics management specialist, for translating Army requirements into statements of work for constructing COVID-19 quarantine centers and a temporary hospital in New Jersey.
• Margaret “Peggy” Fierst, who managed a tasker system for the Defender Europe 20 exercise and began planning for Defender 21, all while on full-time telework.
• Sgt. 1st Class Dennis Fisher, who set up a process in Microsoft Teams that facilitated virtual meetings, leading to thousands of dollars of savings in travel expenses.