New USAEC commander shares impressions, focuses on legacy

By Lally LaksbergsOctober 31, 2022

New USAEC commander shares impressions, focuses on legacy
Col. Matthew F. Kelly, commander, U.S. Army Environmental Command, stands outside the headquarters of USAEC on Joint Base San Antonio, Fort Sam Houston. Kelly took command of USAEC in May 2022. (Photo Credit: Lally Laksbergs, Environmental Public Affairs, USAEC) VIEW ORIGINAL

SAN ANTONIO – Over the past five months Col. Matthew F. Kelly, commander, U.S. Army Environmental Command, has gained a perspective on the ins and outs of USAEC and what the technical professionals bring to the Army, and nation, as a whole; all while focusing on the legacy of the command during the 50th anniversary year.

“I think what’s really been the most enlightening thing that I’ve had the opportunity to experience so far is gaining an appreciation of the professionalism and expertise of the people at USAEC,” said Kelly.

“It really is top-level environmental stewardship and care that the team here brings to understanding how we can be good stewards of our environmental resources for the Army.”

Kelly’s experience as a chemical officer in the Army brought insight to the fact that there was something called ‘AEC’, but now his understanding of the depth and reach of the command is much clearer.

“There is this group of professional, technical experts that look at Army impacts to the environment and do that every single day,” said Kelly. “They go in and look at some of the hardest, most complex, unique problems that no one else looks at.”

Kelly shared that a very unique feature of this command is that many of the analysis, investigation and plans don’t look at short-term fixes, but those that will occur 20, 30 or more years.

“We don’t look at things in a ‘short term’ model, we look at things over a 20, 30 or longer year timespan,” Kelly said. “We have people looking at problems that will not be solved while they are here to see the solution but want to make sure that they have set it up to be explained and completed by someone else. That is dedication to the core of the mission.”

Kelly wants others to know the relevance and importance of what the command professionals for Army readiness and environmental stewardship.

“The Army does have environmental impacts. We are trying to be the best stewards that we possibly can of our environmental resources for EVERYONE,” Kelly emphasized. “There are things that we do that impact areas of the environment; but we are trying to mitigate those, trying to lessen that impact, while continuing the nation’s mission for national security and defense. We make sure that the resources we have are used appropriately and are there for others to use going forward.”

Future planning is just as important now as it has been over the past 50 years of USAEC. This year celebrates the golden anniversary of AEC and Kelly is enthusiastic to be involved in advocating and building the command legacy for the future.

“Because of the level of expertise that we have at AEC, you don’t build that level of proficiency overnight, it takes time,” shared Kelly.

“What we’re working towards right now is ‘building that bench’; building those future environmental stewards from the initial entry employee here at AEC and passing on that level of knowledge, to ensure that we continue to foster that talent, and look for the long term as AEC continues into the future.”

Although USAEC is unique, Kelly stresses the seriousness of the environmental stewardship and those within the command who will continue to be part of solutions to Army organizational objectives.

“USAEC will continue to advocate the criticality of the Army to train, understanding the impacts to the environment while mitigating those impacts to the best of our abilities,” shared Kelly. “We want to build upon the legacy that has been shaped over the initial 50 years; we want to ensure that growth, resilience, and expertise is maintained throughout time.”