Career in finance leads to Picatinny Arsenal garrison command sergeant major landing top Pentagon position

By Eric KowalJuly 5, 2023

Command Sgt. Maj. Terry L. Anderson (center) speaks to military personnel at Picatinny Arsenal
Command Sgt. Maj. Terry L. Anderson (center) speaks to military personnel at Picatinny Arsenal (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Todd Mozes) VIEW ORIGINAL

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - U.S. Army Garrison Picatinny Arsenal officials will hold a change of responsibility ceremony on July 12, when Command Sgt. Maj. Terry L. Anderson will relinquish charge as the garrison’s command sergeant major to the incoming Command Sgt. Maj. David M. Franks.

Anderson will report to the Pentagon in Washington D.C., where he will serve as the senior enlisted servicemember in the finance military occupational specialty.

Earlier this year, the Picatinny Arsenal garrison commander, Lt. Col. Alexander D. Burgos, sent an email to the installation’s workforce, notifying them of Anderson’s achievement.

“On behalf of the Sergeant Major of the Army, Command Sgt. Maj. Terry L. Anderson, U.S. Army Garrison Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., has been selected as the Sergeant Major, Headquarters, Department of the Army, Financial Management and Comptroller, Pentagon,” Burgos stated.

“The selection is a major accomplishment, and we are proud to see that Picatinny’ s own will be represented at such a high level on the HQDA Staff.

“Congratulations Command Sgt. Maj. Anderson!”

Anderson entered the Army in July 1999 from Columbia, South Carolina, as a finance specialist. His military careers spans more than 20 years, serving in a variety of positions and holding numerous job titles in the finance specialty, including deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo.,

When Anderson was first assigned to the northern New Jersey military installation, Picatinny Arsenal much like the rest of the Army and the world, was in the middle of a transition as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Even now, at the end of his tour, Anderson has never seen Picatinny at its full workforce occupancy because of telework capabilities.

“I thought maybe it was a National Guard or Reserve base, but then when I did the research and learned about the important mission that is done here, I was interested and excited for the new assignment,” Anderson said, recalling his arrival at Picatinny in 2021.

“The biggest challenge was the change with COVID and the dynamics of the workforce. The everyday routine has changed and continues to change. Everybody’s job here is so different. You have police, fire, engineers, scientists, child and youth services employees, human resources, and having that wide scope of varying professionals and job requirements makes it difficult to have a compromise on focus areas. Each job is equally important as the next.”

With an extensive career in finance, Anderson's active involvement in human capital planning, offering insights, and overall experience enabled the Garrison leadership in such areas as talent management, retention, and fire/police union discussions. Because of the career path he chose, the command sergeant major easily adapted to working with mostly civilian employees.

“It is an adjustment because you are used to having Soldiers, and if you tell everyone to ‘move left,’ they are going to move left because you are a command sergeant major,” Anderson said. “Here I am more an influential figure, indirect leadership. I must be able to connect with a different style of leadership. It is not a demanding type of style of leadership, it is more of a compromise, and looking at how we can improve. Instead of me coming up with ideas, it is more me ascertaining those ideas and how I can help development those ideas.”

During Anderson’s tenure as the Picatinny Arsenal garrison command sergeant major, the installation was selected as the number one “best garrison” within U.S. Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM) ID-Sustainment (ID-S) and ranked fifth overall in IMCOM.

“It is not hard to get nested with the commander’s vision,” Anderson said. “My job is to understand the mission and the vision, understand what his primary objectives are, and help facilitate them. That part of the job is not difficult. The difficult part is building those personal relationships in the short amount of time that you are here. It is all trust based. Once I earn their trust, it is a lot easier to give guidance and direction.

“As the sergeant major, I’m kind of like the complaint office,” he continued. “If the garrison has to cut back services or reduce what we can provide, I’ll hear about it, but my background in finance also helps me understand contracts and how the processes work, so that is extremely helpful and helps give me a perspective to take on new approaches to fix problems or challenges along the way.”

Because he was able to gain that trust from the workforce, Anderson was essential in coordinating, implementing, and shaping the strategic messaging of directed cost-saving initiatives to meet the ID-S and garrison commander's guidance. These initiatives saved more than $1.6 million by restructuring the Contract Review Board to streamline information and improve understanding for decision-making and invigorating Contract Officer Representative training.

He also assisted in implementing a reduction of workforce overtime by 42 percent, resulting in $264,000 in cost avoidance. In addition, the garrison collected $10 million in reimbursable funding from installation mission partners through reimbursable agreements.

Ahead of the change of responsibility ceremony that officially concludes his assignment at Picatinny, Anderson had a few words of advice to the incoming command sergeant major to help build on the garrison’s success.

“Understand the mission,” Anderson said. “Understand the senior commander’s and garrison commander’s priorities and get to know the workforce and build alliances.”