ROCK ISLAND, Illinois – On December 16, Col. Gavin J. Gardner, commander of the U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command, held an enterprise-wide town hall, his first since taking command. The town hall was broadcast virtually to JMC headquarters’ employees and to those at JMC’s depots and munitions plants across the U.S.
Gardner introduced himself, sharing that he’s a third generation Army brat. His grandfather served in WWII and his father served too, and coincidentally, was once stationed at JMC’s Scranton Army Ammunition Plant, in Scranton, Pa. Gardner said he has served in the Army for more than 28 years and has deployed five times.
Gardner said that while currently serving as the JMC commander, his number one priority is people.
“We need to invest in people in order to execute our mission here at JMC,” he said.
In recognition of the important work that JMC employees are doing, he mentioned four employees that have recently received special awards for their efforts.
Lonnie Burks, Safety and Occupational Health specialist at McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, received the 5th Annual DOD Safety Management System Achievement Award for Individual Special Government Employee. Chris Willoughby, Electronic Security and Assessment Systems manager at Blue Grass Army Depot, received the Army-level Thomas Dillon Award for Security Excellence. Walt Songalia, director for Sustainment Production at JMC headquarters, who is retiring after 36 years in the ammunition community, received JMC’s most prestigious annual award, the Maj. Gen. John C. Raaen Jr. Achievement Award. And, Ryan Senkbile, Logistics Management specialist at JMC headquarters, received Army Materiel Command’s Louis Dellamonica Award.
During the town hall, the JMC Commander also answered employees’ questions.
Employees at Blue Grass Army Chemical Activity asked about their future once the chemical demilitarization mission is completed. Gardner urged employees to press forward to complete the work through 2024, when demil is slated to be complete, and through the subsequent transition period of closure of the chem-demil facilities. He said the possible availability of future positions will be an Army decision and employees may be offered to relocate to other locations to work.
A Tooele Army Depot employee asked how workload is balanced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gardner said that the commander at each JMC installation makes that determination weekly, based on the local COVID-19 status. Protecting the workforce remains the number one priority. Gardner encouraged the JMC workforce to consider upcoming opportunities to receive the COVID vaccine.
During his remarks to the enterprise, Gardner commended the JMC workforce on major accomplishments of 2020. These included the fact that JMC produced more than one billion rounds of ammunition, issued more than 316,000 short-tons of ammunition and shipped more than 3, 400 containers of ammo overseas. The JMC also retrograded more than 13,000 containers to place ammo into storage or for demilitarization at installations. The JMC enterprise demilitarized more than 48,000 short-tons of ammunition, which freed up 218,000 square feet of storage space. Gardner emphasized that all of this was accomplished through 10 million labor hours, with no injuries, during a pandemic, and with no impact of supply to Warfighters.
Gardner also addressed JMC’s Ammunition Strategy and said, “We are developing an ammunition strategy that drives to a 21st century organic industrial base, able to sustain readiness, support modernization efforts, and postured to prepare for and execute large-scale combat operations.”
He added, “We remain focused on our core mission requirements of production, distribution, storage, and demil, closely nested and synchronized with OIB facilities’ modernization.”
The JMC Command Sgt. Maj., Brian Morrison, spoke to the workforce about Project Inclusion, a Department of Defense initiative, which includes components addressing diversity and inclusion, Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, and suicide prevention efforts in the workplace.
“We’ve conducted 500 listening sessions across the enterprise and are forming a six-year human capital strategy plan to build on diversity and inclusion in the workforce,” he said. “We’re gleaning ideas from our workforce and incorporating those ideas into our practices.”
JoEtta Fisher, Executive Director for Ammunition and Deputy to the Commander, told the workforce, “Thank you for all you’ve done in 2020, and we have some exciting plans for 2021.”
Gardner ended his first town hall by saying, “I encourage you all to take care of yourselves and to make sure your family, friends, and co-workers are doing well this holiday season.”
The Joint Munitions Command, located at Rock Island Arsenal, operates a nationwide network of facilities where ammunition is distributed, stored, demilitarized, and produced. Its mission is to provide the Army and Joint Forces with ready, reliable, lethal munitions at the right place and time, to sustain global operations.