Phoenix - Senior civilian and uniformed leaders from all of the military services gathered in Phoenix this week with business and civic representatives to discuss the critical relationships that enable our defense communities around the world.
The three-day professional development and networking event brought military leaders from bases around the world together with individuals, businesses and municipal entities to explore ways to work together to create innovative and sustainable solutions for current and future challenges.
Lt. Gen. Omar Jones, commander of U.S. Army Installation Management Command, joined Hon. Rachel Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment and Lt. Gen. Kevin Vereen, Deputy Chief of Staff for Installations (G-9), for the Army town hall that opened the event.
Jacobson discussed national policy level issues related to energy, water and the existing and future effects of climate change and focused on the recently published Army Climate Strategy and associated implementation plan. Vereen spoke of the work done at the Army level to create an environment where public-private partnerships can be easily formed and designed to increase integration of military communities, enhance readiness and reduce costs.
Jones began his remarks by describing the meaning behind IMCOM’s motto, “We are the Army’s Home.” He said, “Home is a special place to all people. It is where our family is, where we rest and feel safe, where we learn, grow and love.” Because of this, Jones believes he has the best job in the Army.
In describing the Army’s top priority of people, Jones said “Within people are the five quality of life priorities: childcare, housing, spouse employment, the PCS move process, and health care. As part of Army Materiel Command, IMCOM is responsible for executing the first four. “By focusing on quality of life, we contribute to the readiness of our Army. We invest in the people serving today and we hopefully inspire other Americans to serve.”
This was a theme common to all the service installation management chiefs. At various forums throughout the three-day event, each spoke of the nexus between taking good care of people as the primary way to demonstrate the military as a desirable way of life.
In addition to discussing how partnerships can benefit all members of military communities, leaders from all services focused on the diverse initiatives and projects across the DoD to build resilience in facilities, public works, energy storage, utilities and other aspects of base operating services.
One popular topic of discussion was the requirement for each service to conduct a minimum of five black start exercises per year. These intricately planned drills are designed to help commanders assess installation resilience capabilities and practice using back up sources to power the base for eight hours or more. On behalf of AMC, IMCOM began executing these Army-level program this year at several military installations.
Army Col. Lance O’Bryan, the garrison commander of Fort Knox, Kentucky, was joined by Col. Lisa Lamb, garrison commander of Fort Hunter Liggett, California, to lead a crowded breakout session detailing the lessons their teams learned through black start exercises held over the past year.
“Our exercise allowed us to put our systems, equipment, and teams to the test. By stressing all these simultaneously, we were able to identify where the gaps and seams were,” O’Bryan said. “This kind of training today will allow us to remain on-mission and caring for our people when the next emergency comes.”