Anticipation can run high when a four-star general visits an organization. Presenters want to ensure all the right information is shared and with the best delivery. However, once Gen. Charles Hamilton, Army Materiel Command commander, sat down with Security Assistance Command leaders for his first quarterly update from the command, everyone’s concerns were eased.
Hamilton greeted the room with energy, but before beginning the meeting he shared kind remarks about a recent loss of military training members in a helicopter crash. His genuine demeanor and friendly outlook set the stage for a productive brief from USASAC’s recent successes and the way ahead.
“I understand the importance of security assistance; the weight of it and its importance to our future,” Hamilton said.
The three days preceding his visit, USASAC participated in the AUSA Global Force Symposium and Exposition in Huntsville.
“We met with 32 industry representatives,” USASAC Commander Brig. Gen. Brad Nicholson said, “and had three engagements with partner nations at the event talking about in-demand systems.”
The symposium successes set the tone for the breakdown of the top foreign military cases in each of the combatant command regions. The regional operations directors each shared operational updates, which includes USASAC’s global footprint in executing 6,658 foreign military cases with 135 allies and partners. These efforts enable strategic readiness for partner armies.
The regional operations directors included in their reports key countries where the command is building partner capacity, the types of equipment and materiel that is being delivered, and where there is a presence through training, advising and assisting.
“Through the efforts of 1,340 USASAC security assistance professionals, and 728 who are forward-stationed or deployed, (we are) in support of security cooperation efforts,” Nicholson said. “They wear the AMC patch.”
Col. Andrew Clark, commander of the USASAC subcommand, Security Assistance Training Management Organization, spoke about the 29 training teams that are in 17 countries. These teams help to bolster USASAC’s already strong relationships with military allies and partners. SATMO is located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Clark said SATMO is the only Army organization to provide Foreign Affairs Counter Threat training to personnel traveling and working abroad. FACT training is a requirement for State Department employees but is crucial for anyone traveling for the U.S. government in areas where there is a need for general security awareness.
FACT provides the basic skills and knowledge to observe and counter potential threats that may arise while serving abroad. SATMO is working to have FACT training added into the Army Training Requirements and Resources System.
“We also have subject matter experts in the geographic Army component commands,” Nicholson said. “They understand materiel delivery. They are quick to respond to (their) needs.”
However, USASAC cannot deliver security assistance alone. “There are 11 entities in the security assistance enterprise,” Nicholson said. “We couldn’t do what we do without them.”
Two of those entities are located at Redstone, and are also major subcommands to AMC, including Aviation and Missile Command, and Army Contracting Command-Redstone.
USASAC is “snapped in tight with AMC,” according to Nicholson, meaning USASAC aligns their strategies and efforts to the AMC Lines of Effort.
The first line of effort for AMC and USASAC is People First. Indeed, the overall priorities for the Army has people at the top. Hamilton talked about ways to “be creative to get the best talent” to join our commands. “People are first, then readiness. When the workforce is in a state of readiness the mission will happen,” he said.
Hamilton acknowledged that hiring new talent is a challenge as we are “competing with Google and Amazon.” Yet he encouraged those present that hiring and retaining can “be something simple.” He recounted a prior experience where his command would hire and train very talented personnel, but then watch them “leave to go work across the street for the Navy doing the same job.” He took the time to “get out and ask them what’s going on?”
He said that the lack of providing Wi-Fi access to the workforce, like the Navy provided theirs, was all that mattered in retaining the trained workforce. That is how he learned that sometimes it is “something simple.”
His challenge to USASAC is to “be clever and innovative. Think about what made working for the DOD appealing to you?”
Hamilton ended his visit with encouragement for USASAC’s efforts. “You are a great asset on the menu of choice.”
“I have been watching you for over four years, on the receiving end,” he said. “You have a great reputation. You know how to work it, work through it, and work around (problems). You understand the steps to go through to get there.”