By Kari Hawkins, USAG RedstoneJanuary 7, 2011
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. 00 On both personal and professional levels, Maj. Gen. Jim Rogers' assignment as the commander of the Aviation and Missile Command is much like coming home.
On the home front, he is stationed with his wife and four children, far from the battlefield, and living close to his wife Reba's relatives in both Madison and Jacksonville. Just up the interstate, in Michigan, is where Rogers' relatives live.
In the office, Rogers leads a family of about 16,800 AMCOM employees worldwide who have set a high standard for support of the Army's aviation and missile systems. As the Arsenal's senior commander, he also leads an even larger employee family known as Team Redstone. It is a job he has quickly come to appreciate in the four months he has been in command.
"AMCOM and all of Redstone Arsenal have a reputation of just being a great place to work, of taking care of its people and being an integral part of the community. And I've seen that all to be true," Rogers said.
"This Arsenal has always been a place where there is an integration of program executive offices, the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, acquisition and AMCOM to sustain aviation and missile systems. Everyone is doing their fair share. Everyone is taking care of business and doing a good job."
Rogers knows an organization's effectiveness and contribution relies solely on motivated, skilled and educated employees.
"You can't have a good organization without people that care and we have that in spades everywhere at Redstone," he said. "The challenge is how do you take care of those people while getting the mission done and how do you stay effective while being efficient."
Every day, Rogers comes into the office with one question on his mind - What can I improve today to support the war fighter and AMCOM'
He hopes it's a question that AMCOM employees also ask themselves.
In his most recent assignment as commander of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command, Rogers lead a Soldier force of about 11,000. Prior to that, as commander of the Joint Munitions Command at Rock Island, Ill., he led an organization of 8,000 civilians.
"With those two commands, what I found is the civilian work force works just as hard as Soldiers to make sure the war fighter is taken care of," Rogers said. "They work long hours and they don't complain.
"Just like good Soldiers, good employees follow the Army values. What I look for in employees, first, is curiosity. Asking questions, asking 'Why'' leads to trying new things and improving things. I also look for competence in what they are doing, and integrity and leadership, which are part of the Army values. We as a community of employees have got to stand up and make a difference where we are at."
The biggest challenge for 2011 for AMCOM employees and for employees throughout the Army, Rogers said, is working better with tighter resources.
"We need to take the leap and look at ourselves and try to improve on ourselves as far as efficiencies while also staying effective," he said. "People know we're effective. We are unbelievably effective. But we need to improve. Continuous improvement isn't a bumper sticker. It's something we really need to go after. I'm a big believer in that."
As the new year begins, Rogers is still becoming familiar with all of AMCOM's programs. He is also taking on responsibilities as the senior commander of Team Redstone, both on post and within the community. But, with AMCOM as his main mission focus, Rogers relies heavily on Garrison commander Col. John Hamilton to lead Garrison employees in continuing to provide vital services in support of the Arsenal's growth, which will include bringing on board the full headquarters staffs of the Army Materiel Command, Security Assistance Command and Contracting Command in 2011.
"The synergy that we will have here will be incredible. We will all benefit from the teaming relationships with these organizations. It is a win-win for all of us," Rogers said.
In 2011, Rogers hopes to see the reputation of AMCOM grow with its people, products, services and mission.
"The only way we can continue to stay viable and an integral part of the aviation, missile and the TMDE (test, measurement and diagnostic equipment) communities is if we prove to everyone we're the best and most efficient organization in industry and in government," Rogers said. "We want AMCOM to be a place where industry and government want to come to get our support and our expertise."
At work, Rogers is himself striving to be a better leader. On the home front, he wants to be a better family man. He and his family are enjoying spending time together, and learning about Huntsville and the surrounding community. This time last year, Rogers was away from his family, deployed to Kuwait as commander of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command at Camp Arifjan.
The holiday season of 2010 - including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's - was the first full season he has spent with his family in two years. It's been filled with such Huntsville favorites as the Botanical Garden's Galaxy of Lights and the Living Christmas Tree at First Baptist Church. Rogers especially enjoyed attending a middle school band concert where his eighth-grade twins performed. The holidays also included a 10-hour trip to Michigan with all six family members in the Rogers mini-van.
"This has been a busy time for us," said Reba Rogers. "It's been a good time for our family. The kids are happy. They've made good grades and they've made friends. Everyone has been so welcoming. I wrote in our Christmas card that this transition for the kids went better than we could have hoped for ... We had heard great things about the community so we had high expectations when we came to Huntsville and Redstone Arsenal. And we haven't been disappointed."
The Rogers children make the household busy. Jeff, 20, is a junior at Auburn University, where he is studying mechanical engineering. Tom, 16, is a junior at New Century Technology High School. Twins Matt and Jessi, 13, are eighth-graders at Mountain Gap Middle School.
The adjustment to the local community has brought one surprise - a higher profile for the entire family.
"We moved here from Fort Bragg, where there are 23 general officers," Reba Rogers said. "We've tried to teach our kids that it doesn't matter what your dad does. When you are asked, you're dad works for the Army, your dad's in the Army. But it's a little harder here because people know who Jim Rogers is."
As with other military families, Reba Rogers, who grew up as the daughter of an Army colonel, and the Rogers children have lived with the sacrifices and the "adventures" of Army life.
"The bad part is Jim misses a lot of events and you don't get that time back. That makes us sad," Reba Rogers said. "But we know what he does is important.
"It's all in your attitude. And the kids' dad always likes to tell them 'It's an adventure.' It's gotten to the point where they will say 'Really, dad, another adventure'' But it is all good for us. You have to go into it with a positive attitude and knowing home is wherever your family is."
The children have benefitted from living in different places, including Fort Bragg, N.C., Fort Campbell, Ky.; MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Fla.; Rock Island, Ill.; Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.; and Alexandria, Va. The family has moved 14 times in 24 years, with Jeff attending seven different schools, Tom attending six different schools, and the twins attending five different schools each.
"It teaches them to be adaptable and flexible," Reba Rogers said. "They've learned how to make friends easily and faster because they have to. They see us do it, too, and they understand.
They might be leaving their friends. But their mommy and daddy are leaving their friends, too."
With today's technology, friends can stay in touch much easier than when Reba Rogers was moving around the country with her military family. The family has also benefitted from Army programs, such as Army Community Service, Department of Defense schools, youth services and chapel services. But the best support for military families, Reba Rogers said, are other military families.
"The neighbors and friends you make in the Army while living on a post become the best support network you can have," she said. "Everyone is going through the same thing and they can help each other. There is a lot of established support through Army Community Service and family readiness groups. But, for me personally, I would have to say the bond I've made with other military spouses and families is where I get my support."
A West Point graduate, Rogers was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Ordnance Corps in 1979. He and Reba Rogers met when Rogers and Reba Rogers' father were stationed at Aberdeen Proving Ground. They married nearly 25 years ago at Fort Bragg.
"Being a part of a military family is the only thing I knew," Reba Rogers said. "I have cousins who have lived in the same place all their lives. That is foreign to me."
As the wife of a two-star general charged as the Arsenal's senior commander, Reba Rogers knows she is also charged with providing senior leadership among the military and civilian families associated with Redstone.
"I definitely think there are responsibilities for me that go with his position," she said. "I like to look at them as opportunities to meet new people and to make new friends. I am in a position to make a difference for other families here ...
"Everyone has been so nice and welcoming that it makes me want to get out and do the right thing for our families. It's a balancing act for me. We are the first ones to have children living at home while we are in this position. Personally, that adds another dynamic to being out in the community. It's a juggling act with the kids coming first."
With children in the Huntsville City Schools system, the Rogers couple will be more active in the local community outside the Arsenal gates than probably any other previous Arsenal commanding general and spouse. For Reba Rogers, that presents an opportunity to be involved and affect positive change for families both on and off post. And she hopes other military spouses and families will follow her lead.
"My wish especially for the military families here is that I would really like them to have a good experience while they are here," she said.
"I would hope they would take advantage of what Redstone and the community has to offer. This post benefits from the highest level of community involvement that I've ever seen. I hope our families will get out and partnership with the community. Being involved is an opportunity for all of us to make a difference in the community and to meet new friends."