By John B. SnyderJune 18, 2012
WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. -- Although bad weather prevented Army Maj. Gen. Kurt J. Stein's visit to the Arsenal last week to thank the Arsenal's workforce for its professionalism and commitment to our Nation's warfighters, his presence was still felt by many. Stein, the commanding general of the TACOM Life Cycle Management Command at the Detroit Arsenal in Michigan, will turn over his command June 21 to Maj. Gen. Michael J. Terry and this week's visit was to be Stein's last to the Arsenal.
In the two-plus years that Stein has been the commander of TACOM LCMC -- which is the Arsenal's higher headquarters -- he visited the Arsenal four times. During each visit, Stein had made clear his admiration and respect for the Arsenal workforce and so, the Arsenal workforce already knew how Stein felt about them whether he made this trip or not.
"I remember during a visit by Gen. Stein in April 2011, there were about 20 of us who were lucky enough to have lunch with him," said Lee Glenn, an Arsenal industrial management specialist who often coordinated Stein's visits to the Arsenal's manufacturing center. "The discussion between him and the workforce could not have been any better because he seemed genuinely concerned about our comments, as well as having thanked each of us for what we do."
Stein also visited the Arsenal in September 2011, when he participated in the Arsenal's town hall meeting talking directly to more than 300 workers. Stein told the workforce just how important their work is to providing servicemen and women in combat with the products that will either make them more lethal or more survivable on the battlefield.
Nevertheless, as final preparations kicked off last week for Stein's visit, there was excitement in the air. Just the thought of the commanding general coming to visit, and why he was coming, set off a flurry of discussions, as well as reflections.
Whenever an Army leader, be them a commanding general or a platoon sergeant, leaves a unit there are always mixed emotions. And, as the Arsenal workforce reflected last week, there were emotions here, too. But among the sea of emotions, there was one emotion that stood out above all others: Pride.
Why pride? During Stein's tenure, the Arsenal had manufactured and shipped thousands of tank, howitzer, and mortar products that ended up in the hands of U.S. warfighters in Iraq and Afghanistan. Stein provided the direction, as well as created the operational environment for that support to be at the right place and at the right time.
So, in a strange way, Stein's non-visit still served a purpose. Just knowing he was coming and that this would be his last trip inspired great thought, conversation, and a sense of pride that the Watervliet Arsenal had done just fine under his command.
As preparations for his visit came to a close, there was another sense in the air that this proposed last farewell by a commander had been witnessed here before -- in fact, hundreds of times since the Arsenal's humble beginnings in 1813. And, as the Arsenal workforce has done countless times in its nearly 200-year history, it wishes its commanding general a fond farewell and the very best for continued success.
The Watervliet Arsenal (pronounced water-vleet") is an Army-owned-and-operated manufacturing facility located in Watervliet, New York. The Arsenal is the oldest, continuously active arsenal in the United States, having begun operations during the War of 1812.
Today's Arsenal is relied upon by U.S. and foreign militaries to produce the most advanced, high-tech, high-powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar systems. This National Historic Registered Landmark has an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $100 million.