FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — U.S. Army Installation Management Command announced today that Fort Leonard Wood is the best garrison in the Army.
Lt. Gen. Omar Jones, IMCOM commanding general, alongside IMCOM Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Copeland, presented the 2022 award — in recognition of Fort Leonard Wood’s garrison Soldiers, families, civilians and community partners “for exemplary dedication and commitment to excellence” — to Col. Anthony Pollio, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, and USAG Fort Leonard Wood Command Sgt. Maj. Danny Castleberry during a brief ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, where IMCOM is headquartered.
“With 80 garrisons and Army support activities around the world, all dedicated to supporting our mission partners who are out there, the quality of life for Army people, the readiness of our Army — to be selected as the best garrison among the 80 is incredible, and it’s an absolute reflection of the people, the professionalism, the commitment of all the people of the Fort Leonard Wood garrison, and all the things they are doing for our team there, for the Army there and the entire community,” Jones said.
Pollio, who took command of the garrison one year ago this month, thanked IMCOM’s leadership for the acknowledgment, calling it a “huge achievement, and a direct result of the entire team’s efforts.”
“One of the things I’ve been most impressed about Fort Leonard Wood is just the level of professionalism and dedication from the entire garrison staff,” Pollio said. “To me, I see what great work everybody does day in and day out, but seeing that recognition from outside the organization, especially when you consider — General Jones briefed this morning — with 80 installations, 60,000 people, then you look at Fort Leonard Wood and then to win that award is just a huge achievement.”
Pollio also noted this achievement would not have been possible without years of work.
“Even though we received the award for 2022, it’s the contributions of all the different team members from the garrison who have served all the way up and to that time, since a lot of what we do in the garrison is long lead-time items,” Pollio said. “Sometimes, decisions we make, we don’t see the results for two to three years down the road, and so, the award is ’22, but it’s the entire team for years prior who contributed to the award.”
Set on 63,000 acres of land in the Missouri Ozarks, Fort Leonard Wood is home to U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and supports three Army schools; three Initial Military Training brigades and a reception battalion; one of the Army’s largest NCO academies; all Department of Defense truck-driver training; and numerous courses and academies specializing in engineer, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear, and military police functions, generating 80,000 Soldiers and civilians to the force.
Beyond supporting the TRADOC mission, Fort Leonard Wood also hosts the largest Marine Corps detachment and Air Force squadron on any Army installation, a Navy construction detachment, the U.S. Army Reserve 102nd Training Division (Maneuver Support), the Missouri Army National Guard’s 35th Engineer Brigade, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Prime Power School, the Homeland Defense Civil Support Office, and U.S. Army Forces Command’s 5th Engineer Battalion.
In addition to the joint-service military and civilian training that occurs here, the garrison has demonstrated its commitment to a high quality of life through continual improvement in areas such as childcare, education, health, wellness and recreational activities.
The Child and Youth Services Program received DOD certification for the 24th straight year in August 2022. To achieve this certification, programs must annually meet the criteria reviewed during three local inspections and an unannounced Army higher headquarters inspection.
In addition, a new Early Childhood Center was opened in June 2022, with help from a $600K Defense Community Infrastructure Program grant.
Fort Leonard Wood’s Truman Education Center awarded more than 300 Soldiers, DOD civilians and family members with degrees from six universities during a combined college graduation in October 2022, and held a pinning ceremony for 21 new nurses in May 2022.
A major contributor to the installation’s exceptional health and wellness programs is its Army Substance Abuse Program, which in addition to training, brought the team together through three major initiatives. ASAP’s first initiative focused on revitalizing their speaker program by coordinating several presentations in May 2022, with mental health advocate and suicide prevention educator David Woods Bartley. Nearly 1,100 Soldiers and DOD civilians attended those sessions.
Another initiative was the creation, in January 2022, of the garrison commander’s challenge for company-level command teams to submit ideas about making positive choices when it comes to alcohol. The challenge winner worked with ASAP and created an alcohol reduction training video that is being used to train Soldiers across post to combat high-risk drinking.
The third initiative was the team’s Ready and Resilient Fair that brought together 50 health and wellness organizations across the garrison to provide training, information and education to nearly 1,000 Soldiers, DOD civilians and family members.
Fort Leonard Wood’s 2022 Army Emergency Relief campaign collected $185,973 in donations — 24 percent higher than the original goal of $150K. And while the Army’s goal was to see at least 25 percent of Soldiers donating to the campaign, Fort Leonard Wood surpassed its own record of 52.8 percent, for a new record of 69 percent of Soldiers donating. Fort Leonard Wood was named the No. 1 AER campaign in TRADOC and the No. 1 campaign in the Army for dollars raised from Soldiers and the most donations received. These funds typically serve more than 500 Soldiers and retirees every year in the Fort Leonard Wood community.
As many events, programs and services returned to in-person in 2022, the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation team hosted a variety of events, even as the pandemic continued to create issues with recruiting and retaining its non-appropriated fund workforce.
Events such as the Cardboard Regatta, and the Commander’s Cup program — with 23 units participating in events ranging from golf and archery to bowling and paintball — brought units and individuals together for recreation, physical activity and lighthearted rivalry and camaraderie.
Additionally, DFMWR provided more than 200 in-person community events, to include an Independence Day celebration, with more than 6,000 people in attendance, a tree-lighting ceremony, an egg hunt — which reached more than 300 children and gave away 90 bicycles — and the Month of the Military Child Drive Thru event, that provided education and outreach to more than 500 families.
The Army’s Best Garrison competition is one piece of the overall Commander in Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence, organized by the Secretary of Defense to recognize the outstanding and innovative efforts of the people who operate and maintain U.S. military installations.