Balance —That’s how Emmet Holley would describe one of the secrets to his success as Garrison deputy at Fort Knox for the past 19-plus years, a role that ended the last day of 2020.“Balancing needs is a key issue,” Holley recently said. “It is a perfect description of what I’ve tried to do between the economic and military requirements of this region where we’re all successful but yet where the military remains our primary support here.”Whether he’s weighing housing and barracks space concerns against filling contracted hotel rooms on post or the economics of hotels and apartments off post, or he’s guiding Fort Knox’s civilian directors and agency heads while giving them enough room to grow and develop their own leadership styles, balance has been vital to Holley’s role.Adjusting to constant change is another.Under Holley’s watch, the Central Kentucky Army post has gone through a lot of big changes over the last two decades.Calm in the stormWhen Holley took the deputy position in 2001 after having retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel and the installation’s inspector general, there were just two general officer commands operating on post, one of which still remains: U.S. Army Recruiting Command.“For my job and what it is that a deputy has responsibility for, it didn’t change that much over the entire almost 20 years I’ve been in position, but we did go through significant change in our chains of command,” said Holley. “When I first got into position, the Armor School was here. And USAREC didn’t have any real play on the installation per se, other than just occupying their building, because most of their focus was obviously getting the recruiting stations across the nation to meet their recruiting goals.”With only the Armor School commander’s needs for him and the Garrison commander to focus on, he said it afforded him time to develop as a leader. Today, there are nine general officer commands at the installation.Holley said all that changed in 2005, while he was still fairly new at the job. Congress ordered a Base Realignment and Closure process, which resulted in the eventual move of the Armor School to Fort Benning, Georgia.In May 2010, the Armor Center and School transferred authority of the installation to a newly arrived three-star command — U.S. Army Accessions Command. The post also witnessed the arrival of the 3,500-Soldier 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, as well as several active and Reserve training and support commands, all which drastically altered the post’s mission.Suddenly, focus on the needs of one senior leader became a focus on many senior leaders. As if that wasn’t enough, Holley also had a new senior commander with a very different mindset to support: Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley.“That was kind of an adjustment having a new senior command person there, but at the same time we were also changing our installation management command structure,” said Holley. “We had to make sure we were making a number of different bosses somewhat happy, and making sure their issues were being addressed.”Winning teamLike producing a winning football team, Holley said he has devoted much time to finding the right directors for the right jobs over the years.“Regardless of what the command structure was, my goal was building a Garrison team to support all the various activities on the installation, and ensuring that we were taking care of all of our mission partners that were coming onto the installation,” Holley said. “My job was also to try and get resources to our directors and activity chiefs, where they could do the jobs that they had been hired to do. That mission for the deputy really hasn’t changed over the years.”Holley described that process as a talent he felt blessed to have possessed — an ability to generally pick outstanding leaders in the various Garrison support directorates and agencies that not only get the job done, they also motivate their subordinates to get it done far above the standard.“I’ve been very fortunate over the years,” he said. “I guess it’s a gift, in some ways, of figuring out the personalities that make up our Garrison directors and activities chiefs.”Holley said it’s not enough to have a director who can make their team work well together. Each director also has to be able to work well with other directors.“I try to make sure we don’t get too many Type-A personalities that are going to just fight among themselves,” said Holley. “You have to have those folks who work well with other bosses or directors. At the same time, though, you can’t have 13 Type A’s because all I would be doing is refereeing fights.“In a nutshell, what this position does is build a team, and make sure the mission is focused on customer-service and taking care of their people.”Holley said there is another aspect of the job he worked hard to maintain — developing and maintaining good working relationships with government and civic leaders.“I always saw my role as the guy who’s the continuity of the command group, developing those relationships off the installation that would allow the commanders and sergeants major on the post to change out smoothly,” said Holley. “I was able to introduce new senior leaders when the time was right, or handle issues myself by talking to local [leaders], state representatives and federal officials.”Holley said those relationships have helped pave the way for positive growth and changes over the years – changes that include Kentucky Veterans Cemetery – Central, Carl M. Brashear Radcliff Veterans Center and the Veterans Affairs’ Fort Knox Community Based Outpatient Clinic.“It was important that I made sure I hired the right leaders for the Garrison civilian leadership, but it’s more than that,” said Holley. “It’s what you do after you put that person in place to help develop them to reach their potential; to maximize their talents, and allow them to exceed and excel at everything they are supposed to do. That’s what I tried to do.”Holley said a key part of developing leaders is giving them enough leeway to make some mistakes along the way and learn from them.“You don’t want them to become clones of their bosses,” said Holley. “I worked to allow everybody to develop their particular leadership skills and attributes to the fullest that we could.”Holley said it is rewarding when Garrison deputies from other installations often call and thank him for developing an employee that now works for them.“To have my counterparts call and tell me, ‘I don’t know what you did but thanks for developing him or her to this degree because they are hands down better than anything we’ve ever had here,’” said Holley, “that’s where I get most of my fulfillment from.”Holley and many of his directors over the years have also traveled to other installations to assist leaders on developing best practices.Leaving a legacyHolley said he has been humbled with the outpouring of encouragement after his retirement was announced, not only from people who work at Garrison today but even more so from the many people who have worked for him over the years and have since retired or are working in leadership roles somewhere else.He has enjoyed much-needed vacation time leading up to his final retirement day, but the recent bombing in Nashville demonstrated how challenging retirement will be — at least for a little while.“I will usually make contact with our emergency services folks just to check and say, ‘Hey, do you think there’s something we need to do to increase our security posture?’ and when that happened, I said, ‘Nope, Emmet. You’re no longer in that business. Somebody else is in charge now.’“It’s a process; you have to kind of deprogram yourself after having done this job for as long as I have. In my mind I know what I need to do — now it’s about making myself do it.”And what of the legacy Holley hopes will continue long after his retirement? He would suggest it be the Garrison team’s continued love for Soldiers, civilians and their families that has often made Fort Knox the Army’s gold standard for support.“The veteran’s home and getting V Corps here were major accomplishments, but I don’t think Emmet Holley wants to be remembered so much for any of that stuff,” said Holley. “What I feel most responsible for is helping my subordinate teammates become the best leaders they could be.”