By Col. Deborah GraysApril 29, 2011
Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem
I had the pleasure of attending the U.S. Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM) Symposium April 19-21.
The company I kept during those three days in San Antonio looked very much like the group we have here at Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem - a gathering of Soldiers, DoD Civilians, contractors and Family members.
The configuration was not lost on Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, IMCOM's commanding general, as he addressed the crowd on day one. He said the Civilians are not given enough recognition for their dedication.
"You are nothing short of amazing," he told them. I totally agree. Our Civilian employees are some of the most outstanding people serving the Army's needs today. You have learned to continue to provide expert customer service in a fundamentally constrained fiscal environment.
I want you all to realize it's not only base closure contributing to tightened belts. The phenomenon is Army wide. Gen. Lynch spoke at some length regarding reduced funds and how they compare to the continuing support mission.
He said our installation responsibilities haven't changed; we still have to take care of the home front. He emphasized our need to plan Soldier support the same way we budget our homes.
Gen. Lynch said we need to ask three questions: Do we need it, is it worth the price, and what are we willing to do without. I understand it's a challenge to conduct our missions without some of the amenities, but I am confident in our garrison's ability to be creative. A good way to practice fiscal responsibility is in a continued effort to conserve our precious resources.
Katherine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, was at the symposium to talk about the Net Zero Installation Strategy. She said the program will establish a framework of reduction, re-purposing, recycling and composting, energy recovery and disposal to guide them towards achieving net zero in an environmentally responsible, cost-effective and efficient manner. We are already practicing good resource stewardship by shutting down equipment when not in use and lights when rooms aren't occupied.
We recycle paper and plastic as well as properly dispose of expended or unused ink cartridges. I encourage you to continue with these responsible practices when you move on to your next installation and help the Army to achieve its net zero goal.
Finally, I had the opportunity to see Gen. Lynch, Ms. Hammack and Command Sgt. Major Neil Ciotola, IMCOM's command sergeant major, recognize the NCO of the Year. Staff Sgt. Christopher McDougall, from U.S. Army Garrison (USAG) Stuttgart, made me proud of our time honored NCO corps.
Not because he is from my own branch, the Military Police, but because of his selfless dedication to his unit and his command.
McDougal said his goal was not to win the competition, but to proudly represent the men and women at USAG Stuttgart and IMCOM to the best of his ability. I see our Soldiers every day bringing pride of unit and pride in service to each task they have been given.
It doesn't matter if they are representing our own garrison in honor guard duties, funeral honors team or the mundane event set up and clean up tasks, they give their utmost. You make me proud to be your commander. Much inspiration came from the symposium.
I wish you all could have been there, but, since that wasn't possible, I hope I have been able to encourage you with the taste I brought back with me. Continue to do the great work you've been doing along and we'll be able to close out with our heads held high.