DETROIT ARSENAL, Mich. — Good communication is essential for engagement, building understanding and trust, and increasing productivity. These goals are the primary reason that Army leaders choose commander’s calls and town halls to engage with Soldiers, Civilians, and contractors.
On Mar. 10, Maj. Gen. Darren Werner, Commanding General Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, held his third virtual Town Hall to update employees across TACOM on the current status of command initiatives. Some of the issues he discussed included the outcomes of the Black Engineer of the Year virtual hiring event, the upcoming Extremism Stand-Down, and current status of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan.
The event started with Werner explaining some of the changes with his top ten priorities for the command. Werner moved the COVID-19 vaccination initiative to his top priority. Project Inclusion has also become a priority for TACOM with the new mentorship program being one of the new initiatives rolled out in the past month.
“We’re working to develop and improve the working environment across the whole organization,” Werner said, “This includes working on corrosive behavior and things like sexual assault…to create a place where people can thrive.”
He then transitioned to acknowledging some of the accomplishments of TACOM employees and work centers. Specifically, he recognized fire and emergency service personnel and departments from across TACOM at Sierra Army Depot, Red River Army Depot, and Anniston Army Depot.
“These individuals have really demonstrated what it means to be at the top,” he said, “And they’re at the top of their game.”
Werner lauded the partnership between Red River Army Depot and the University of Texas at Texarkana. This partnership assists in development of robotic technologies and autonomous/semi-autonomous vehicles. The program also contributes to continuing educational opportunities for TACOM employees working out of Red River.
“This has been a great relationship between the academic program [at the University] and the depot,” Werner said, “It’s going to take us into the future as we transition our workforce.”
Continuing with the accolades, Werner recognized two visual information specialists at Anniston Army Depot who received awards in the 2021 Army Materiel Command’s David G. Harris Public Affairs competition.
“This group of individuals have done an incredible job and have noteworthy efforts across TACOM,” he said.
One of this quarter’s biggest achievements for TACOM was the success the command had in the Black Engineer of the Year 2021 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math hiring event. TACOM and AMC took part in the event providing presentations and helping mentor potential future employees and leaders.
“This program provides critical outreach, balancing recruiting activities to the under-represented African American STEM community,” said Werner.
Participating in programs like these can assure that TACOM can recruit from diverse communities to fill job vacancies more efficiently.
Looking at ways to promote diversity is just one top initiative within the Department of Defense currently, commanders have also been asked to help curb extremist ideology and behavior throughout their commands.
On February 5, the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, signed a memorandum directing that all Department of Defense personnel will undergo a one-day stand-down to address extremism within the ranks.
Werner explained a little about what TACOM would be doing to address the extremism and corrosive behavior order.
“We want to enable Army personnel, Department of Army Civilians, and Soldiers to recognize, deter, and report suspected or actual extremist behavior,” said Werner, “We want them to understand how to build cohesive teams in a climate free of discrimination.”
Over the next couple of weeks, the command will be working with higher headquarters to further develop the training and get it out to the workforce. Werner assured that throughout this process, TACOM and the Army will be focused on taking care of its number one asset…people.
Werner then transitioned to TACOM’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. To date, 52% of volunteers to get the vaccine have received their first shot, and 38% have received the second vaccine.
“The commanders in the field are directly responsible for this success,” Werner said. “I’m very proud of their actions to protect all of you.”
He also reminded the workforce Department of Defense vaccine allocations do not affect local and state doses of vaccine, as the two pools of vaccine are allocated separately.
“There’s a lot of effort going on across the command to ensure that everyone that wants a vaccination gets a vaccination,” Werner said.
Col. Matthew Hoefer, AMC Command Surgeon, joined Werner to talk about COVID-19 and answer questions about the vaccine. Hoefer stressed that the COVID-19 vaccine does not prevent someone from getting COVID.
“The vaccine reduces your chance of getting sick by [strengthening] the immune [response to the virus],” Hoefer said, “You also reduce the chance that you will transmit the virus, by reducing the viral load in your system. If you do contract COVID, it will reduce the severity of the illness.”
Hoefer stated that you still have to wear masks when around others and take necessary precautions, because even if you do not become sick you can still spread the virus to others.
“The goal of the vaccination program is ‘Herd Immunity’,” said Hoefer, “If enough people are vaccinated, it becomes harder to pass on the virus.”
Along with the ongoing vaccination program across TACOM, the Department of Defense currently has a mandatory face mask requirement for all installations when operating indoors.
“Even though some states are lifting mask requirements, it’s still a requirement to wear a mask on all federal installations,” Werner said.
Local commanders can alter the face mask policy on a temporary, case-by-case basis.
To finish out his third town hall, Werner went overs some of the upcoming events and answered a few questions from viewers.
The TACOM Mentorship Program is less than a month old and viewed by some within the command as a success. One of the first questions was about the possibility of leadership expanding the program to include more employees. Werner stated that he was happy with how the program started as a grass roots endeavor and has grown.
“[The program] is about looking into our organization…to help us lead our organization into a positive position,” said Werner, “We are looking at opportunities to initiate the mentorship program across all of TACOM.”
The program started out small to see how it would be received and how the command could resource it. Leaders also wanted to make sure that the program was diverse and open to everyone.
Along with the Mentorship Program, members of the command are also happy with the current telework policy. Another inquiry was about the continuation of the telework program after the end of the pandemic.
Werner stated that the telework program has allowed the command to capitalize on technology to continue to conduct business and make improvements to continue the command’s mission.
“I believe telework is a viable option for future operations with some great opportunities that we can develop over time,” Werner said, “Currently, we are working on an exception to the DoD and Army policies on telework…we’ll look at continuing to leverage the capabilities as we are able to, because we have the capability now.”
The town hall lasted approximately an hour-and-a-half, Werner answered a few more questions during the question and answer session. The Q&A will be posted along with the questions he didn’t have time to answer to the TACOM portal within the next few weeks.