WSMR Commander Brig. Gen. Timothy Coffin focused on his expectations of the workforce and providing a clear mission in his first quarterly Town Hall at the Post Theater Aug. 13. Coffin said he wants to do business in a way that will help prepare the workforce for the future rather than doing business as usual.
“Organizations thrive not necessarily because of funding and not because of the location. They really thrive because of the people that make up the organization,” Coffin said. “I always find that I’ve had the best time when everyone was pulling together towards the same common mission. When I’m not having fun, usually there’s been a breakdown in people living the Army values.”
Coffin emphasized the importance of a military, especially an Army, in today’s world.
“The world is not necessarily what I would consider a more peaceful or safer place right now,” Coffin said. “The good news is that the American people are still very supportive of the military.”
Coffin said our nation needs an Army and our Army needs to test its weapons. WSMR relies on these tests to thrive as an installation.
“I’m truly in awe of the various missions and testing that goes on at White Sands,” Coffin said.
One of Coffin’s main objectives during the Town Hall was to create a set of expectations for himself and for the workforce.
“My expectation is that we build on the past as we move to the future,” Coffin said. “What we have to be careful of is we use our past as a foundation but not necessarily as a guide map for the future.”
Coffin said he wants to ensure that WSMR customers are happy with the systems they use when they come in to do business. If a customer is not content, Coffin said he wants to look at ways to improve the system in order to continue to have WSMR be the preferred range for testing.
“As (companies are) developing a new program…I hope they’re saying, ‘Man I hope I get to test this at White Sands,’” Coffin said.
In order to maintain a healthy range, Coffin said he must look into maintaining a healthy workforce. Coffin said he plans to create a healthy workforce by assuring an adequate amount of workforce is always present even when there are shifting budgets and requirements.
“One of my objectives is to try to find people to come and backfill the 2nd Engineer Battalion in order to maintain a healthy installation population,” Coffin said.
He also set the expectation for upkeep and appearance throughout the installation.
“There are some basic standards that I expect from the entire community and that’s to treat this place like your home,” Coffin said. “Operate in the same way as if this was your house. I think if you keep the concept in mind, it helps bring up the standard across the board.”
Coffin also took the time to welcome nearly 40 Air Defense Soldiers who were recently stationed at WSMR. The arrival of Soldiers will help offset the housing reduction WSMR will see when the 2nd Engineer Battalion gets reassigned in the summer.
“We welcome you to the White Sands community and we hope this will be a very fulfilling mission for you,” Coffin said.
Coffin broke the ice in the beginning if his Town Hall with a look into his childhood and adolescence.
“This is my first Town Hall. What I’d like to do is tell you a little bit about what’s on my mind,” Coffin said.
Coffin talked about how he entered the Army. When he graduated High School, Coffin said he decided he did not want to put the burden of college on his parents. He decided to join the Army in order to be able to attend college. His plans, at the time, were to leave the Army after he obtained his degree.
“From then on my hair has been short and I’ve been conforming to a more military standard. My career path has been; wandering through the Army and having fun,” Coffin said.
Coffin’s father worked as an aerospace engineer for the Sprint Missile Program when Coffin was only 8 years old. He said it was the first time he had ever heard about WSMR. Coffin said his father probably never imagined at that time that his son would one day take command of the installation. Coffin’s father passed away a year ago, before Coffin received his assignment to be the Commanding General at WSMR.
“This is not a brand new thing (for me). I’ve been associated with WSMR over the years,” Coffin said. “It’s interesting for me to see the development.”
Coffin also took the opportunity to highlight the importance of suicide prevention through the example of the recent suicide of actor and comedian Robin Williams.
“He didn’t have the network that could really go deeper than the facade when things got dark and difficult. It’s really a loss to all of us,” Coffin said. “We have to be a little intrusive…intrusive because we care.”
Next month is suicide prevention month. Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, and Sandra Class, the Army Substance Abuse/Suicide program manager, were on hand during the Town Hall to talk about upcoming suicide prevention events that also fall in line with the resiliency campaign.
“We’re doing what we need to do. We’re kind of creating the standard throughout the community,” Sellers said. “We’re really going to focus our efforts on enhancing resiliency. We’re working our hardest to make sure that those who want to participate can.”
Cindi Drake, SHARP program manager also spoke during the Town Hall to remind the workforce of the SHARP training that is due by Sept. 30. Kate McNeely Garrison Deputy Commander also highlighted the upcoming active shooter exercise during the town hall.
“The importance of this exercise is really getting the workforce trained. When it happens you’re going to be involved whether you like it or not,” McNeely said. “This will be a better exercise if everyone participates.”
During the Town Hall, Mike Garcia, Data Support division chief put the call out for applicants for the Reaching New Heights and WSMR Executive Development Program. Applications must be submitted by Oct 27.
“There are two great programs that have been completely reinvigorated for this year,” Garcia said.
Coffin ended the Town Hall with a question and answer session from the audience. The audience asked questions about a restructure in the Test Center workforce and a look ahead in the FY15 staffing level. Coffin said he is currently looking at the Test Center workforce to see if he can redistribute tasks in order to be able to clearly align employees with their job duties. As far as the upcoming budget, Coffin said the Army is currently looking further ahead into FY19. He said having training and developmental assignments on hand will help create a more robust workforce across the board.
Coffin invited the workforce to e-mail him with any topics they would like to see addressed in the upcoming town halls.
“It’s our privilege to be here at White Sands. We really appreciate the way the community has reached out to us,” Coffin said. “Every now and then we forget to look up and appreciate the beauty that we see around us.”
“I do want to keep an open line of communication. You may see me poking around your areas, don’t be alarmed. I’m not lost,” Coffin added.
To submit an idea for the next town hall, please send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org .