SAN ANTONIO ─ Lt. Gen. Douglas Gabram, Commanding General, U.S. Army Installation Management Command, welcomed military, business and civic leaders to the annual Installation Innovation Forum hosted by the Association of Defense Communities here Nov. 1-3.
Headquartered in San Antonio, IMCOM provides the programs and services that deliver quality base support for Soldiers, families and civilians at 97 installations around the world, enabling readiness for a globally responsive Army.
Joining his counterparts from the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps to engage a diverse audience of organizational leaders from communities that support military installations, Gabram and many of IMCOM’s key leaders were able to dialogue with the group to network and create the kind of partnerships that strengthen our nation.
Gabram opened the event engaging those at the conference interested in Army communities. He began recalling the first time he addressed the forum, two weeks after he took command of IMCOM in January 2020 just as COVID-19 was beginning to impact the lives of Soldiers, families and communities in the Republic of Korea, Italy, and then Germany.
COVID-19 proved garrison commanders as “the center of gravity for the Army during the pandemic,” Gabram said. He went on to detail the initiative, creativity, leadership and communication skills garrison commanders employed to protect their communities. “Many of you in this room will attest to the positive impact they had at your home station.”
As for conducting mission command during a pandemic, “We were on it early. We got ahead of it because we were able to develop tactics, techniques and procedures for protecting these small cities and then rapidly share them across the command,” he said.
”While garrison commanders were battle-tested during the pandemic, they continued to make strides in Army housing and permanent change of station moves through partnerships,” Gabram said.
“There is no more Army housing crisis,” he stated, noting that of 87,000 houses in the Army Residential Communities Initiative inventory, 64 Army families are displaced today, adding most of these are planned upgrades or renovations. Gabram also described the weekly meetings between senior Army and housing partner leaders that continue to drive this number down.
The increased integration with housing partners has “accelerated and improved our ability to solve problems,” Gabram said, mentioning that partners are investing more than $1.1 billion over the next five years.
While worldwide labor shortages placed increasing demand on PCS moves, “a total Army team effort made a big difference in a very difficult operating environment,” Gabram said. Through partnerships, the Army moved 53,000 people and 72,000 shipments from April through September.
Gabram concluded his opening remarks with a focus on engaging with partners outside of the fence.
“We are interlinked in so many ways – power, water, utilities – we can’t do what we do without you. The ‘No Fence Lines’ concept is very important to me,” he said.
Stay focused on priorities
The keynote event of day one of the conference featured a panel of key leaders diving into issues shaping the future of installation management.
Gabram, joined by Vice Adm. Yancy Lindsey, Commander, Navy Installations Command; Maj. Gen. John Wilcox, Commander, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center; and Brig. Gen. Jason Woodworth, Commander, Marine Corps Installations-West, answered questions ranging from funding and resources, to infrastructure and training.
Again, Gabram emphasized the importance of the garrison commanders as the center of gravity in ensuring developments in line with Army priorities. Since Soldiers and families live, work and train on installations, the leaders at the installations have a profound impact on attracting, retaining and enabling the force.
“Whether it’s infrastructure, housing, child development … there are so many requirements. This means we have to stay focused on well thought-out priorities,” he said. “Garrison commanders are the center of gravity for resource management and their ability to convene the right groups – in and outside the fence line – to solve problems and get things done.”
While each branch of service works to provide quality of life services within the installation fence lines, senior leaders recognize that sometimes not all needs are met without the help of community counterparts.
“It all comes down to partnerships,” said Karen Holt, ADC vice president, who opened the session. “It is a dynamic ecosystem that feeds innovation.”
Gabram echoed the importance of this system: “The mission doesn’t happen without the support of our civilian communities and partners like you who house much of our workforce, teach our children, employ our spouses, and provide the care or services not available at our installations. Partnerships that transcend the fence line make a difference every day.”