By Kris GonzalezJune 10, 2010
FORT JACKSON, SC -- For two years, Fort Jackson's commanding general has overseen the transition of thousands of civilians to Soldiers at the Army's largest Initial Entry Training center. Soon, he will rely heavily on the knowledge he has acquired here as he heads downrange.
Brig. Gen. Bradley May will relinquish command to Maj. Gen. James Milano during a Change of Command ceremony at 9 a.m., June 16 at the Officer's Club.
May, who has commanded Fort Jackson since July 2008, will head to Baghdad, where he will become the director for the Iraqi Training and Advisory Mission.
In his new assignment, which will include overseeing training of the Iraqi Security Forces, May said he will have a rare opportunity to see the correlation between the accomplishments made during his command and the real-world operations and procedures that are being implemented downrange where U.S. Soldiers continue to engage in combat and are in the midst of turning over more control to Iraqi forces.
"In terms of me leaving this job and going to the next job, I couldn't have asked for one that has a better translation," May said. "If I was going anywhere else, I wouldn't be able to say that.
"This assignment (at Fort Jackson) has allowed me to see things that (without this assignment) I would not be able to have that frame of reference going into it," he continued. "Particularly from the systemic standpoint that we have here training and transforming Soldiers - that transformation, some of the same things, will have to happen over there, so a lot of it will be applicable.
"And now I'll be able to see the fruits of the labor as the Soldiers go through the ranks," he said. "I'll see some of them in combat, and I'll see them down the road, and some of them will be sergeants major one day. There's a whole host of second and third order of effects with this that make one extremely proud."
During his tenure here, May worked with a team of military and civilian leaders to create and institute a comprehensive strategic plan, which concentrated on three general areas of operation for Fort Jackson: training; quality of life; and support and sustainability. Those areas were built on a mission with the mantra: tradition, training, transformation.
"He quickly built consensus among key leaders, gave timely guidance, and worked personally on the areas where he felt he could obtain the greatest value for Fort Jackson," said Col. Jeffrey Sanderson, chief of staff. "In the end, the campaign plan was an inclusive unifying document that guided all our major actions and activities during his command tour."
The plan, with its "holistic approach," became a strategic road map for the future of the installation, May said.
"It serves as a driver as to where we're going," he said. "Now we've got a package that not only allows us to see the vision, then the mission, but also what's been accomplished."
May said he is proud of the strides that have been made as an extension of the campaign plan, especially in respect to his number one priority - training Soldiers.
"Training and transformation is job No. 1," he said. "The transformation of civilians and Soldiers that are destined to combat, it's truly been just incredible to watch how that transformation works and the talented folks we have out there executing, and how we've worked hard to make sure they have the resources to do that.
"I've really gotten the chance to get up close and personal, and watch this team in action under some challenging conditions, and it goes across the entire installation; it reinforces with me how proud I am of the way they responded to the challenges they faced. We're truly blessed to have such fine Americans serving in the ranks. I couldn't be more grateful for having the opportunity to serve with everybody here."
May said he'll also miss the surrounding community of Columbia, where he said the residents and city and county leaders have helped him fulfill his second priority of providing a good quality of life for those serving at Fort Jackson.
"If you went out and said, 'Go pick the community you want to live in,' it would be Columbia," he said. "Because they are just so supportive. They have played a real role in taking care of our Soldiers and helping to provide the quality of life that our Soldiers, families and civilians deserve."
Ike McLeese, president of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce and civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army, shared May's sentiments.
"General May has been very accessible and responsive to the community and very open and straightforward in his communications with us," McLeese said. "He and (his wife) Jan care very deeply about Soldiers and their families."
Sanderson said it was obvious that May was more than just a boss; he was also a role model.
"General May was a joy to work for. He was always positive, energetic, and most of all encouraging," Sanderson said.
"He is a man of strong faith and conviction and one who believes strongly in the concepts of honor, integrity and personal character. He was an excellent role model for all of us as we undertook our daily duties and this led to the positive command climate he established during his tenure here at Fort Jackson."