FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Oct. 7, 2010) - Human resources leaders from across the post and other locations met here Oct. 5 to develop strategies to deal with the impact - good and bad - expected to result from the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC)-directed relocation of thousands of Army civilian employees.

Now that the BRAC-directed relocation of the headquarters of U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) and U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC) is underway in earnest here, there is going to be some turbulence in the civilian work force here until the process is complete.

Ronna Rowe Garrett, human resources director and officer-in-charge of FORSCOM's forward presence at Fort Bragg said the expected turbulence could extend well into 2012. However, lessening the impact on the other commands at Fort Bragg, one of the world's largest military complexes, was the point of the recent planning meeting.

Senior leaders anticipated this challenge

The anticipated turbulence in the civilian workforce is not a surprise to the Army's senior leaders. During a recent BRAC Summit, the Army's vice chief of staff, Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli , directed all affected Army installations and commands to track the impact on civilian personnel hiring due to BRAC relocations.

With that guidance in mind, human resources leaders realize they will face some unique challenges. For example, the relatively senior grade structure of the FORSCOM and USARC civilian workforces, combined with the possibility of several hundred vacancies make for a period of personnel turbulence.

"We are planning for about 50 percent of our current workforce to actually relocate from Fort McPherson, Ga., to Fort Bragg," said Garrett. "That translates to several hundred potential vacancies to be filled at Bragg."

For job seekers at Fort Bragg and in the surrounding area, those vacancies are part of "good" that will result from the BRAC relocation of civilian workforces from forts McPherson and Gillem. Garrett said the initial need to fill vacancies will likely be followed by a longer period of steady turnover as many of the individuals who accepted the transfer offer to move here are at or near retirement eligibility and may vacate their positions within a year or two of the BRAC relocation deadline of Sept. 15, 2011.

The ability for current employees of the various commands and activities at Fort Bragg to compete for what may be higher graded positions at the FORSCOM or USARC headquarters will be tempting, but according to Larris Marks, FORSCOM's BRAC human resources advisor, maintaining a capable, high performing, results-oriented and diverse workforce will require use of a variety of recruitment sources.

"As we recruit in the coming months, we are making an aggressive effort to use a diverse set of sources, such as former military members, spouses of service members and candidates from around the world," said Marks. "The USAJOBS website and the Army's Civilian Personnel On-line (Web) portal will be major resources we will tap into, and we will reach out to people with disabilities, women, minorities and of course - our wounded warriors."

Kim Meyer, USARC's deputy human capital officer, said she encouraged the human resource attendees from other commands and organizations here to follow the lead of the two command's coming in from Atlanta. "We (both commands) have been executing mitigating strategies for some time," Meyer said. "In fact, USARC anticipated the coming need and started a training program to bring on 60 new employees about two years ago."

Low-Density, High Demand Positions

Career fields such as information technology, financial administration and logistics are of particular concern to all commands here, as are positions that are "one or two-deep" in some organizations, said Diane Bennett, FORSCOM's chief of civilian personnel.

Following the recent planning meeting here, Bennett said, "I appreciated the concerns they raised, and that they confirmed some of the specific job skills we are also concerned about. We have to think about organizations that only have one or two people with a specific skill," she said. "What will they do if we hire their one person'"

Collaboration, Info Sharing Critical

Attendees at the meeting were also encouraged to continually share lessons learned, techniques and solutions. Eleanor Richardson, FORSCOM team leader with the Fort Bragg Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC), said this initial gathering was encouraging.

"Everyone - HR and management - wants to collaborate," she said. "I think it was a real success."

Richardson said her team and the rest of the CPAC - which serves as an installation focal point and clearing house for human resources, has been preparing for the increased workload to come.

"We have been working on this internally and positioning ourselves with a strong staff - I believe the CPAC team is ready to respond," said Richardson.

Garrett said the first "HR Strategic Planning Session" with nearly all of Fort Bragg's major players represented was well worth the time and effort. "It was critically important for everyone to come together in one location to take on what will very likely be a huge challenge for us all," she said. "Having key players with us, like Ray Mehling, the director of the Civilian Human Resources Agency's Business Process Improvement Office, and Jim Pattison from the Fort McCoy CPAC, really got everyone's attention and told them this is going to be a vital period for the Army"

"We wanted to start the conversation and inspire Bragg command HR professionals to think outside the box," said Garrett. "I really believe we brought focus to what may become a future challenge for some of the commands here at Fort Bragg."

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