FORT LEE – Pointing out how Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine exemplifies the necessity for U.S. military readiness, the Installation Management Command’s top officer shared service and leadership tips with a class of graduating Army Logistics University students here March 1.
Lt. Gen. Douglas M. Gabram, who oversees operations at 75 garrisons around the world, was guest speaker during the Logistics Basic Officer Leader Course, Class 22-002, graduation in Bunker Hall’s Green Auditorium. IMCOM, aligned under Army Materiel Command, is responsible for the overall management of Army installations, ensuring they have the funding and top-level command focus needed to support the nation’s fighting forces.
Speaking before 123 graduates in-person and online, Gabram’s tone was sobering and earnest. He said the war in Ukraine lends evidence to the importance of readiness, especially for those responsible for fulfilling the Army’s logistical needs. He provided the audience of fledgling officers with truths to help clarify their purpose and tips that will help them thrive.
The key messages he offered are as follows:
• “Don’t over-complicate leadership. I’ve learned, simply put, Soldiers don’t really care how much you know ‘til you show them how much you care.”
• “The Army exists for one reason and one reason only: to fight and win our nation’s wars, period. There are no points for second place or participation trophies in combat because we play to win.”
• “You will be entrusted with the lives of (America’s) sons and daughters – an extremely heavy burden. … I want you to be encouraged by the actions and commitment of the many, many others that have gone before you. They were just like you…new army officers from across America. You represent them now moving forward. You carry on that burden. You carry on a tradition of their service with the oath you took. An oath – not to a king or monarch or a president – you took an oath to the Constitution of the United States. This is about something bigger than yourself.”
• “We fight for the nation and the flag on our right shoulder, but in the end, we fight for each other – for the person on your left and right. You have to trust your battle buddy, and they must trust you.”
• “I’ve learned combat is not about the strongest, the biggest, the baddest or the smartest. It’s about who you trust when the chips are down. Soldiers are going to look into your eyes for confidence. When you’re surrounded or when you’re in a bad situation, they’re going to look into your eyes and say, ‘Lieutenant, what do we do?’ You know what you need to do? You need to inspire them. You need to lead them best you can.”
• “Remember, only when you know your Soldiers can you really effectively lead them. Soldiers are most effective when they have engaged leadership and they know their families are being cared for.”
• “You have to earn the support of your subordinates, peers and bosses. This is about character, hard work and putting the team first. That’s something bigger than yourself.”
• “You will see as you go on in your career after a couple of PCS moves and hard tours, how important our family is. Family is No. 1.”
The commander concluded his presentation with a call for action.
“You need to go out now, get after it and get it done.”
Gabram was commissioned in 1984 at Bowling Green University in Ohio. Prior to his IMCOM assignment, he was director for testing at the Missile Defense Agency, Redstone Arsenal, Ala. He also previously served as commanding general, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command.
IMCOM is home-stationed at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas.