RICHMOND, Ky., July 14, 2022 — There was a leadership change at the Blue Grass Army Depot on Tuesday, July 12, with Col. Brett A. Ayvazian taking the reins of the post from the retiring Col. Stephen D. Dorris.

Col. Brett A. Ayvazian takes command of the Blue Grass Army Depot, Richmond, Ky.
Col. Brett A. Ayvazian (2nd from left), incoming commander of the Blue Grass Army Depot, takes the unit colors from Col. Landis C. Maddox (left), Commander of Joint Munitions Command. The passing of the unit colors is symbolic of passing command authority from the outgoing commander to the new commander.

Col. Stephen D. Dorris, BGAD’s outgoing commander (2nd from right), and Command Sgt. Maj. Petra M. Casarez, Command Sergeant Major of Joint Munitions Command (far right), look on.
(Photo Credit: Army Photo by Jana Felts, BGCA Public Affairs Specialist)

The nearly 15,000-acre Army installation in Madison County is best known for its storage and demilitarization of chemical weapons. But, its primary and less known mission is the receipt, storage, and distribution of conventional munitions around the globe.

Dorris ended his two-year tenure as commander by praising the BGAD employees.

“I can use the next few minutes to rattle off a lot of numbers and statistics to justify the relevance and successful accomplishments of this depot… But I did want to take a moment and talk about the special people. Those who quietly and professionally perform their jobs daily to enable all of the capacity productivity we generate with a small patch of DOD real estate,” said Dorris. “These people from Central Kentucky possess a rarely found, tough-as-nails, can-do attitude,” Dorris added. “They know their mission here matters, and the more you challenge them, the more they respond.”

Ayvazian comes to BGAD from the Army Materiel Command in Anniston, Ala., where he served as the Deputy Chief of Staff. He brings 29 years of military experience to BGAD. Ayvazian also brings civilian experience as a chemical plant manager for a distribution company, working at the company during a break in Army service.

BGAD is part of the Army Working Capital Fund (AWCF), in which an organization must generate revenue from selling goods and services to pay for the expenses it buys and in-house operating costs. BGAD operations use no taxpayer dollars.

Ayvazian believes his experience will help BGAD reach its annual Net Operating Result (NOR), the net difference between expenses and funds received for a single fiscal year.

“It (civilian background) certainly helps because it gives me some background on running a business operation, not just the chemical plant piece. This experience is far from the norm for a logistics officer career in the Army,” he said. Ayvazian added, “running an organic industrial base site with the Army Working Capital Fund is completely foreign to most of us, but I’ve got a bit of experience that will help me figure things out quicker.”

As the new commander, Col. Ayvazian will oversee the final chemical demilitarization operations conducted by the Bluegrass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP), a tenet unit on the post utilizing BGAD’s land and facilities.

“The chemical weapon disposal is only one portion of what we do here, and we are happy to be a part of it. However, once that goes away, understand that the Blue Grass Army Depot mission, its conventional munitions mission will continue and endure for the long term,” Ayvazian said. “Glad to be a part of that history, but I’m looking forward to setting the conditions for long-term endurance for the rest of the depot and its operations,” he added.

There is a misconception in parts of the community that the Bluegrass Army Depot is closing once the chemical demilitarization mission is complete next year. That is not the case. BGAD’s primary mission is storing and shipping conventional munitions. That will not end when the chemical demilitarization mission is over. BGAD will look for a new tenant to replace BGCAPP once the chemical demilitarization mission is complete.

Col. Landis C. Maddox, Commander of Joint Munitions Command (JMC), BGAD’s higher headquarters, presided over the change of command ceremony. He praised Col. Dorris, who served in the Army since 1990, and BGAD employees. Maddox stated, “under Col. Dorris’ leadership, Bluegrass (Army Depot) met delivery requirements 100% of the time for 56 consecutive months.” Maddox added, “today (as) we transfer responsibility to this command from Col. Stephen Dorris to Col. Bret Ayvazian, this ceremony symbolizes a time-honored tradition of recognizing those who served in command with excellence,”

BGAD is one of five ammunition distribution centers under JMC; of the five, BGAD is the closest to the eastern ports and military installations. Its future workload will remain constant despite the pending loss of BGCAPP when its chemical demilitarization mission concludes.

“I look forward to leading BGAD into its next decade of operations, including post-chemical demilitarization activities,” said Col. Ayvazian. “BGAD has much to offer the Department of Army. I’m excited to see what military-based industry can operate on the post in the future and how we can add to BGAD’s 80-year legacy.”