ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (May 25, 2021) – “Find a way.”
It was Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher’s mantra, the phrase he used to inspire his teammates and himself to push past obstacles and deliver results.
Find a way to get the message over the Afghan mountains.
Find a way for coalition partners to communicate.
Find a way to keep Army network modernization on track during a global pandemic.
“In the world of delivering communications, we have a very daunting task to take on, and sometimes it can be overwhelming,” said Gallagher, who recalled first hearing the phrase “find a way” in the context of his then-teenage son’s hockey team back in 2007. “I thought, ‘It’s so simple, so profound,’ and I basically took it as a life leadership lesson. It’s been on every coin, every slogan, in every unit from that day forward.”
After carrying the “Find a way” mindset through multiple deployments and command assignments, Gallagher made it the anchor for his final assignment as the Director of the Network Cross-Functional Team (CFT) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, where he capped his 35-year Army career with a retirement ceremony on May 25.
“He has served our nation with all his heart and soul for 35 years, and the Army will continue to thrive because of his legacy,” said Gen. Michael Garrett, Commanding General, U.S. Forces Command, who presided over the event.
A native of Pittsburg, Kansas, Gallagher was commissioned into the Signal Corps in 1986 and moved to Fort Gordon, Ga., with his wife, Donna. As he progressed through his career, he commanded Soldiers at the platoon, company, troop, battalion, squadron, brigade, and Army direct reporting unit levels. He deployed numerous times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and provided communications support to conventional and special operations forces throughout the world. His work in Afghanistan helped pioneer the coalition tactical communications network that connected 49 member nations.
Named the Network CFT’s first director in late 2017 as part of the standup of Army Futures Command (AFC), Gallagher quickly recruited a core team of experts and forged relationships with partner organizations to execute the Army’s network modernization strategy. By focusing on the most urgent gaps in communications for the operational force, Gallagher aligned the Army network “team of teams” to drive faster transitions from science and technology and industry efforts into Soldier-led experimentation, procurement and fielding. When COVID-19 hit last spring, the team found a way, overcoming adjustments to schedules, Soldier touchpoints and testing to safely continue the DevOps cycle and rapid modernization approach.
In partnership with the Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications - Tactical and other Army network stakeholders, the CFT injected advanced commercial components and network transport capabilities into the Army’s existing tactical network environment to provide maneuver brigades and below with smaller, lighter, faster, interoperable, and more flexible communications systems. These systems, known as Capability Set 21, are now fielding to select brigade combat teams in the 82nd Airborne, 101st Airborne, and 25th Infantry Divisions.
“We didn’t deliver a perfect solution, but we have a solution that is significantly better than what they had,” Gallagher said. “We’ve really improved that expeditionary capability of our formations, and we’ve provided solutions that are simpler and give them more options.”
Capability Set (CS) 21 is the first in a series of integrated technology packages that will continue with CS 23 in Fiscal Year 2023, CS 25 in Fiscal Year 2025, and so on – each building off the previous set and infused with commercial solutions informed by Soldier-led experimentation, demonstration, and direct user feedback. CS 23 will extend the modernized network to Stryker formations and increase overall network capacity, resiliency and convergence, while CS 25 will expand it to armor formations while increasing automation and protection.
“We’re doing it as a team of teams, with total alignment on the priorities, and really trying to integrate on the front end, getting this stuff into labs, into the hands of the experts, and then getting that Soldier feedback loop started early and taking it out in the field,” Gallagher said.
More than any technology delivered or mission completed, Gallagher said his proudest achievement in 35 years in the Army was the legacy of teammates he had seen grow into leaders.
“To watch some of these young men and women develop, it’s been amazing,” he said.
That includes his two sons, Matthew and Jacob, who both followed in their father’s footsteps to join the Army and lead Soldiers. When they began their careers, Gallagher said he passed along the same advice he would give to anyone starting out in the service: Trust your instincts. Follow the Army values and warrior ethos. Know your job technically and tactically. Bring motivation every single day. Be a good teammate.
“You have to be able to fit into a team where you’ve got different people from different walks of life, with different personalities, different upbringing,” he said. “Attitude is everything.”