HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- During an awards program focused on the innovation and leadership of the region’s defense employees, the Tennessee Valley Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association recognized five members of the Army Materiel Command workforce for their contributions in support of service members deployed in harm’s way.
NDIA presented a Management Award to AMC’s Audra Allen, a strategic planner with AMC’s Commanding General’s Initiatives Group while members of the AMC Commanding General’s Initiative Group Graphics Team – lead designer Mark Jones, and members Amy Turner and Patti Evans – received a Technology Award. AMC’s Col. Christopher Ingels, who is now retired, received a Leadership Excellence Award for his work as the executive deputy for Intelligence and Security. They were among 19 awards presented at an April 27 awards dinner at Huntsville’s Jackson Center.
“What an incredible demonstration of innovation, leadership and vision,” said the event’s keynote speaker Maj. Gen. Charles Hamilton of the awardees.
Hamilton, who is AMC’s former deputy to the commander for Operations and recently assumed the responsibilities of the Army’s Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4 (Logistics), focused his remarks on the difference NDIA and its members make in supporting the nation’s industrial base as it provides the best equipment and technology to service members, and on the impact good leaders have on their professions, communities and families.
“Over the course of my career, I’ve benefited from the work generated by the leaders and corporations in this organization. I’ve seen first-hand the power our industrial base can make when needed,” Hamilton said.
“Industry answered the call multiple times with the rapid fielding of equipment like the improved body armor worn by our service members in combat and the introduction of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles. As the Department of Defense moves to modernize to meet the needs of tomorrow’s Army, innovative leadership willing to collaborate, discuss and exchange ideas is paramount to our national defense.”
NDIA awardee Allen provides innovative leadership and expertise as a lead strategic planner. She is responsible for numerous projects in direct support to AMC Commander Gen. Ed Daly, ranging in complexity from professional development presentations to senior Army leaders to critical strategic engagements with senior defense officials.
“There will never be a way to give back to our Soldiers all that they provide for me; however, to be recognized for those things that I do in my attempt to honor their sacrifices is very humbling,” Allen said of the award recognition.
“Each day, Soldiers devote their lives to a profession that may ultimately require them to make the ultimate sacrifice. Each day, it is my hope and prayer that what I do on that day will assist our Army leadership by providing the information needed from across all areas to help them make the necessary decisions that will keep our Soldiers safe and protected in all areas…physically, mentally and emotionally.”
Hamilton told the NDIA audience the ability to have a vision and to inspire teamwork are core characteristics of all leaders as they make a difference within their organizations.
“I learned early in my career that the fundamentals of leadership are rooted in understanding that very few things in life can be done alone, so teamwork is critical. Recognition of the team brings out the best in them,” he said.
Teamwork was the winning element for employees of the AMC Commanding General’s Initiative Group Graphics Team, as they synergized into an agile and highly productive group delivering strategic communications, content management, presentation development and design solutions in direct support of AMC’s senior leadership.
“We work to create and maintain consistent visual communication of the commanding general’s message. Problem solving is frequent as a variety of additional tasks are assigned, and we are always striving to streamline our design process and production tasks. Working as a team has been essential to our success,” said team member Turner.
“Communication is an invaluable resource in making a team efficient and effective. The work the CIG graphics team does ensures that AMC’s priorities and the commander’s message are conveyed in a clear and precise way not only to the internal team, but also to Army senior leaders. The CIG design group works together to meet challenging deadlines in a successful manner.”
Hamilton’s comments to the group introduced the Army’s definition for leadership – “the activity of influencing people by providing purpose, direction and motivation to accomplish the mission and improve the organization” – and the Army’s “Be, Know, Do” philosophy.
“While the manner in which we lead may vary, there are commonalities that exist regardless of the leadership style,” he said. “Leaders have character and presence. Leaders exercise intellect and competencies that arm them with the ability to influence, motivate and even inspire.”
Leadership awardee Ingels’ was recognized for his work leading teams at AMC, where he was instrumental in transitioning the AMC intelligence and security responsibilities associated with support to research and development to the Army Futures Command. But, for Ingels, the award culminates his 30-year career as an Army leader.
“This was the first time in my career that I was recognized by an organization representing the business community for my efforts in the Army,” Ingels said. “It was very humbling to be selected for this award because NDIA represents such a wide group of competitive organizations and individuals throughout industry.”
Ingels said the award also recognizes the work of AMC’s G-2/6 (Intelligence, Security and Chief Information Officer).
“The scope and the scale of AMC’s operations are so complex that they touch nearly every industry of NDIA,” he said. “I hope the G-2/6’s work at providing indications, warnings and security oversight of the risk of our mission, Soldiers and facilities helps all commands throughout AMC to stay ahead of the threats that might harm our Soldiers and AMC’s ability to perform our logistics mission on a global scale.”
Leadership capabilities exhibited throughout a Soldier’s or civilian’s career make a difference on the battlefield, Hamilton said. But, the fundamentals of a future leader are built during the formative years with their families, Hamilton said, recalling for his audience a female Private who he met while commanding in Afghanistan in 2014. Their meeting occurred after an attack on a convoy that left two Soldiers dead.
“We called the convoy back to formation. But this female private – the most junior person in the organization – said ‘Sir, we want to go back out.’ She wanted to honor her fallen comrades by going out and showing courage,” he said. “We – the Army – put some of that in her. But, I tell you, a lot of that courage came from home. Today, that private is a staff sergeant wearing the drill sergeant patch.”
Self-improvement, mentoring, community involvement, moral courage, high standards, discipline, setting an example for others, understanding the difference between honest mistakes and character flaws, learning from mistakes and investing in future leaders are all characteristics of leaders, Hamilton said.
“Leaders are out front. They have a vision and drive. Whether in your home, community or place of work, find ways to make a difference,” he said.